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LIBRARY 









UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 
Kpewed 2 1892 , 189 



ssi oiis No. /{flUfc}3 . CLiss No. 





fur 



V , 






1 H ~p I- ~ I- U T T A^Jj : 



THE LIFE 



OF 



EDWIN FORREST. 



WITH 



REMINISCENCES AND PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS. 



BY JAMES REES 

(COLLEY CIBBER. ) 



WITH PORTRAIT AND AUTOGRAPH. 



[ Hr. WAS A MAN, TAKK HIM FOR ALL IN ALL, 
I SHALL NOT LOOK UPON HIS LIKE AGAIN." 



! "Zti* 1 - 

4 ^ 
v 

PHILADELPHIA: 
T. B. PETERSON & 



306 CHESTNUT STREET, 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S74, by 

T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS, 
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. 0. 



"EDWIN FORREST" in the character of " SPARTACUS." 

T. B. Peterson & Brothers have just published a large photograph of 
EDWIN FORREST, representing him as he appeared on the stage in his 
great character of " Spartacus" in Dr. Bird s celebrated play of the 
" Gladiator." The size of the photograph is 11 X 14 inches, and the size 
of the card it is mounted on for framing is 16 X 20 inches. It is perfectly 
life-like, Mr. Forrest having sat in character for the original picture ; and 
it is from the original picture this photograph has been taken, by one of 
the most celebrated artists in this country, F. Gutekunst, of Philadelphia, 
Price Two Dollars. It will be sent by express, to any one, on receipt of 
price. 

PORTRAIT OF "EDWIN FORREST." 

T. B. Peterson & Brothers also publish a fine portrait of EDWIN FOR 
REST, engraved on steel, in line and stipple, from the last photograph for 
which Mr. Forrest sat, and which he pronounced to be the best portrait 
ever taken of himself. It is on a large card for framing. Size of the card, 
10 X 13 inches, price Fifty cents. India Proof Impressions of the same 
portrait are also published on the same size card, for framing, price Sixty 
cents. Copies of this portrait will be sent safely, on a roller, to any one, 
to any place, per mail, post-paid, on receipt of price by the Publishers. 

Address all orders and remittances for either or both of the above, to the 
Publishers. 

T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS, 

306 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA. 



TO 
THE MEMEEHS 

OF THE 

THEATRICAL PROFESSION 

IN 
THE UNITED STATES, 

THESE 

EEMIWISCENCES 

OF 

A DISTINGUISHED CO-LABORER 

IN THE 

CAUSE OF THE DRAMA, 

ARE 



THE AUTHOR. 



TO THE EEADER. 



SHORTLY after the death of Mr. Edwin Forrest, on 
account of the intimacy and personal friendship that 
had existed between us for a period of nearly fifty 
years, I commenced the publication of a series of articles 
in the "SUNDAY MERCURY," of Philadelphia, under 
the head of " Reminiscences " of that distinguished 
gentleman. The great interest excited by the early 
numbers, induced me to make some change in my ori 
ginal plan. Since the completion of the series in the 
"Mercury," I have written several additional chapters, 
which contain a full history of Mr. Forrest s life, from 
the time of his birth until his death. I have also made 
large additions to the articles as originally published in 
the " Mercury," and they are now submitted to the public, 
in book form, by one who was endeared to the distin 
guished actor by the most tender ties of friendship. 

On almost every occasion when Mr. Forrest was 
called upon for a sketch of his early life to accompany 
some play or book of the drama, he invariably referred 
such publishers to me, " as being," he said, " more ac 
quainted with his early life, and remembering incidents 
about him much better than he did himself." 

My acquaintance with Mr. Forrest dates from boy- 

(21) 



22 TO THE READER 

hood, and in the latter part of his life, I was his constant 
companion, and perhaps no one had as many advantages 
to become acquainted with his professional career, or with 
the various phases of his character in private life, as 
myself. These advantages were the result of the con 
fidence Mr. Forrest placed in me. When he was absent 
from the city, he entrusted his house and its valuable 
contents to my charge, with money to defray all the cur 
rent household and any other necessary expenses. I had 
the sole use of his library during his absence, and the 
privilege of introducing my friends to view both it and 
the picture gallery. 

It is not egotism which induces me to allude to these 
facts here, but that my readers may fully understand the 
personal relationship existing between the subject of this 
work and its author, and also the motive I had in its 
composition A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF ONE 

WITH WHOSE NAME A NATION IS SO FAMILIAR. 

The portrait of Edwin Forrest, in front of this 
volume, was engraved expressly for the work, on steel, 
from the last photograph for which he ever sat. It was 
taken by the celebrated Philadelphia artist, F. Gutekunst, 
and Mr. Forrest was so well pleased with it, that he 
declared he " would never sit for another picture to mortal 
man." It was alas! too true; for his death followed 

shortly afterwards. 

JAMES REES. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. P> ,, 

INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK, - 33 

CHAPTER II. 

EDWIN FORREST S BIRTH AND PARENTAGE. HIS ANCES 
TRY: EARLY STRUGGLES. HIS FATHER A RUNNER IN 
STEPHEN GIRARD S BANK. ALEXANDER WILSON, THE 

ORNITHOLOGIST. YOUNG FORREST S TUTOR. EDWIN 

A GREAT MIMIC. HIS EARLY INCLINATION FOR THE 

STAGE MANIFESTED. PARENTAL OPPOSITION HIS 

EDUCATION. A STORE BOY. PLAY-BOOK AND DAY 
BOOK TOO NEAR TO EACH OTHER. LECTURED BY HIS 

EMPLOYER. THE RESULT, ..... 39 

CHAPTER III. 

IMITATES THESPIS OF OLD. FORMS A THESPIAN CLUB. 
PLACE OF MEETING. PLEASING REMINISCENCES. HE 
INHALES THE GAS. DEVELOPS HIS STAGE PROCLIVI 
TIES. OLD SOUTH STREET THEATRE. PLAYS A FEMALE 

PART. STRANGE DRESS. SHOWS TEMPER. PLAYS 

ANNA IN DOUGLAS. POOR EDMUND, THE BLIND BOY. 
CHARLES S. PORTER AND JAMES H. HACKETT. AN 

AMUSING INCIDENT SOME ACCOUNT OF THE OLD 

APOLLO THEATRE. DROP CURTAIN AND SCENERY. 
DESTRUCTION OF THE THEATRE BY FIRE, - - 41 

(23) 



24 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER IY. 

PAO. 

HIS FIRST APPEARANCE ON A REGULAR STAGE. FINDS A 

FRIEND IN COL. JOHN SWIFT. THE SPIRIT OF THE 

BOY FORESHADOWS THE GENIUS OF THE MAN. YOUNG 
NORVAL. THE AMATEUR MERGES INTO THE ACTOR. 
PREPARES FOR A WESTERN TOUR. THE DRAMA IN 
CINCINNATI. SOL. SMITH. THE DRAKE FAMILY. FOR- 
REST s JOURNEY. STAGE-COACH ADVENTURE. MEETS 
THE HON. SIMON CAMERON. HIS FIRST APPEARANCE IN 

CINCINNATI. THE UPS AND DOWNS OF STAGE LIFE. 

THE DREAM OF THE BOY REALIZED IN MANHOOD, 60 



CHAPTER Y. 

EARLY STRUGGLES. TRAGEDY, COMEDY, OR CIRCUS? 
PLAYS A NEGRO DANDY. -ENGAGES WITH JAMES H. 
CALDWELL, N. O., FOR THE COMING SEASON. SUFFER 
INGS IN THE MEANTIME. MAKES A PROVINCIAL TOUR. 

ITS RESULTS. THE RIDDLE FAMILY. THROWS UP 

HIS ENGAGEMENT WITH CALDWELL. JOINS A CIRCUS 

COMPANY. SOL. SMITH INDIGNANT. A PLEASING 

EPISODE. GOES TO NEW ORLEANS. HIS RESOLVE 

AFTER SEEING CONWAY, THE GREAT TRAGEDIAN. 

JANE PLACIDE. FORREST S RETURN TO HIS NATIVE 
CITY. TRIUMPHANT SUCCESS I - " " - - - 75 



CHAPTER VI. 

GREAT THEATRICAL SEASON, 1 825. KEAN, FORREST, 
MACREADY, LYDIA KELLY^ AND THOMAS A. COOPER, THE 
STARS. KEAN S RECEPTION. FORREST AS DAMON. 
HIS ENGAGEMENT AT THE PARK THEATRE, N. Y. 
STONE S TRAGEDY OF METAMORA. LUCIUS JUNIUS 
BOOTH. WILLIAM FORREST. SKETCH OF HIS LIFE. 
AN EPISODE. JOHN W. FORNEY. RENEWAL OF EARLY 
FRIENDSHIP, -......-88 



CONTENTS. 25 

CHAPTER VII. 

PAG. 

DRAMATIC AUTHORS. JOHN AUGUSTUS STONE. DR. BIRD. 

ROBERT T. CONRAD. JACK CADE. GLADIATOR. 

ORALOOSA. SUCCESS ATTENDING THEIR PRODUCTION. 

SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR OF META- 

M011A. RICHARD PENN SMITH. CAIUS MARIUS, - 96 

CHAPTER VIII. 

CONTEMPLATES AN EUROPEAN TOUR. TAKES LEAVE OP 

HIS PHILADELPHIA FRIENDS. HIS SPEECH ON THE 

OCCASION. BOWERY THEATRE, N. Y. THOMAS A. 

COOPER. FORREST ENACTS THE PART OF DENTATUS 
IN THE PLAY OF VlRGINIUS. BROKER OF BOGOTA. 
SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MR. COOPER. COMPLIMENT 
ARY DINNER TO MR. FORREST. TESTIMONIALS. GOLD 

MEDAL. FAREWELL SPEECH. DEPARTURE TO EUROPE, 103 

CHAPTER IX. 

IN EUROPE. PILGRIM ON THE RHINE. IN ASIA. 

NAPLES. VENICE. VERONA. TOMB OF JULIET. 

GLANCE OF TRAVEL. THE YANKEES IN ST. PETERS 
BURG INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE M. DALLAS. MO 
ROCCO. ROME. THE VATICAN. VALUE OF A PICTURE. 

CASTLE OF ST. ANGELO. AN INCIDENT. DELARUE. 

A PAGE FROM CLASSIC HISTORY, - - - - 113 

CHAPTER X. 

FORREST S RETURN FROM HIS EUROPEAN TOUR. HIS 
RECEPTION. APPEARS AT THE CHESTNUT STREET THE 
ATRE. SPEECH. PARK THEATRE, N. Y. FAREWELL 

ENGAGEMENT. IMMENSE SUCCESS. ADDRESSES THE 

AUDIENCE. HIS DEPARTURE. APPEARANCE ON THE 

ENGLISH STAGE. KINDLY RECEIVED. PUBLIC DIN 
NERS TENDERED HIM BY THE GARR1CK CLUB 1 
PRESENTS, ETC. HIS MARRIAGE, .... 125 



26 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XI. 

PA<;K. 

OTHELLO. ITS ORIGINAL PLOT. NOTED ACTORS IN THE 

PART. FIRST OTHELLO IN THIS COUNTRY. MR. FOR- 

REST S CONCEPTION OF THE CHARACTER. STGNOR SAL- 
V1NI COMPARED WITH FORREST. AN ITALIAN VERSION, 133 

CHAPTER XII. 

FORREST RETURNS HOME WITH HIS BRIDE. HIS RECEP 
TION. GRAND DINNER. HIS OLD FRIENDS AROUND 

HIM. JOHN SWIFT, MORTON M C MICHAEL, LOUIS A. 
GODEY, ETC., - . - - 145 

CHAPTER XIII. 

KING LEAR. ORIGIN OF THE PLOT. CHRONICLE HISTORY 

OF KING LEAR. SHAKESPEARE S LEAH. BETTERTON. 
BURBAGE BARTON BOOTH. KEMBLE s ADAPTA 
TION. WILLIAM DUNLAP S OPINION OF FORREST S 

LEAR. MR. FORREST S CONCEPTION OF THE CHARACTER. 
EXTRAORDINARY TALENT DISPLAYED IN ITS REN 
DITION. CRITICAL NOTICES BY THE AUTHOR, THRIL 
LING INCIDENT DUIUNG MR. FORREST S PERFORMANCE 
OF LEAR. FIRST PERFORMANCE OF KING LEAR IN 
AMERICA. THE CAST, - - 158 

CHAPTER XIV. 

MR. FORREST A STUDENT. MEN WITH WHOM HE ASSOCI 
ATED. DAMON, HIS GREAT TRIUMPH IN THE PART. 

VIRGINIUS. ENGLISH CRITICISM. CORIOLANUS. 

RICHELIEU, - - 175 

CHAPTER XY. 

HAMLET. ORIGIN OF THE TRAGEDY. THE ORIGINAL 

HAMLET. ACTORS GREAT IN THE PART. CRITICISM 

ON KEMBLE. WILLIAM B. WOOD. MR. FORREST S HAM 
LET. HAMLET S IJN SANITY. WILLIAM A. CON WAY, - 186 



CONTENTS. 27 

CHAPTER XVI. 

TAG*. 

LATE AT RETTFARSAL. RICHELIEU IN A PAPPTON. AN 

AMUSING INCIDENT. THE EXCITED CRITIC. KING 

LEAR S WIG. ALMOST A DUEL. ANDREW JACKSON 

ALLEN. A SATISFACTORY EXCUSE. FORREST MEETS 

HIS MATCH. ROMAN CITIZENS. POWERFUL ACTING, - 190 

CHAPTER XVII. 

MR. FORREST S MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE. FORREST AND 

SHAKESPEARE. THE TURKISH BATH. SHORT LETTER. 

INCIDENT IN AN INSANE ASYLUM. HEREDITARY 

GOUT. QUACK MEDICINE, - - 212 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

ENGLISH PREJUDICE AGAINST AMERICAN AUTHORS AND 
ACTORS. ORIGIN OF THEIR DRAMA, NOT AS LEGITI 
MATE AS OUR OWN. SOME ACCOUNT OF BOOTIES 
RECEPTION IN LONDON FORREST S SECOND PROFES 
SIONAL VISIT. ITS RESULT, - - - - 221 

CHAPTER XIX. 

MR. FORREST. RECEPTION IN ENGLAND COMBINATION. 

INTRIGUE. MACREADY S COMPLICITY WITH FORSTER. 

FORREST AND MACREADY MEET IN PARIS AND AT 

ED1NBURG PAS DE MOUCHOIR, DISTASTEFUL TO FOR 
REST. BULWER AND HIS PLAYS. CORRESPONDENCE 

BETWEEN AUTHOR AND ACTOR. THE PRESS TAKES 

PART. JOHN FORSTER OF THE EXAMINER, - - 228 

CHAPTER XX. 

FORREST HISSES MACREADY. THE RIGHT OF DOING SO 
QUESTIONED. COMBINATIONS IMPROPER. ARE AC 
TORS COMPETENT CRITICS? HAMLET S INSANE AC 
TIONS. FORREST VS. SNOBBISM IN GOTHAM. THE 

BIGHTS OF HISSING AT THEATRES CONSIDERED, - - 238 



28 CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

PAGE. 

RICHARD TIT. COLT.EY GIBBER S VERSION FIRST RICH 
ARD IN AMERICA. ACTORS CELEBRATED IN THE PART. 
FORREST S RICHARD, NOT SHAKESPEARE S. HE AD 
HERES TO HISTORY. QUESTION OF DRESS, - - 248 

CHAPTER XXII. 

MACBETH. NEW READINGS. CRITICISMS. DIVERSITY OF 
OPINION ABOUT CERTAIN PASSAGES. ENGLISH NOTICE 
OF FORREST S MACBETH. FORREST ELATED. WRITES 
AN INJUDICIOUS LETTER HOME. YOUTH AN EXCUSE, 256 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

HOME. LETTERS TO THE AUTHOR. FORREST THINKS OF 
HOME. POSTAL MATTERS. QUACK MEDICINE DEATH 
IN THE POT. GLAD TO HEAR OF FORNEY S RESIGNA 
TION. A LEAKY HOUSE. BAD ACTORS. CRITICISM. 

JOSEPH M C ARDLE, 271 

CHAPTER XXIY. 

MR. FORREST S RELIGION. LOVER OF NATURE. LETTER 

TO A FRIEND. " MY MOTHER." WAS SHAKESPEARE 

A ROMAN CATHOLIC? MUSIC IN CATHEDRALS. KING 
JOHN. SHAKESPEARE AND THE BIBLE, - 280 



CHAPTER XXV. 



MR. FORREST S CHARITY. HOW HE DISPENSED IT. THE 

ACTOR S WIDOW. THE DUTIFUL SON. PLEASING INCI 
DENT. LIBERAL TO HIS PARTY. FORREST AND THE 
POOR. AN UNJUST DEMAND UPON HIS PURSE, - - 288 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

CORIOLANUS. ITS ORIGIN THE ACTOR. MR. FORREST S 

IMPERSONATION OF THE CHARACTER. THE MARBLE 

STATUE. MR. THOMAS BALL, THE SCULPTOR. SPLEN 
DID SPECIMEN OF ART. A PERSPECTIVE GLANCE OF 
THE ACTOR S HOME, 294 



CONTENTS. 29 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

PAQB. 

EDWIN FORREST S POLITICS. DEMOCRATIC. FOURTH OF 
JULY SPEECH. A PAGE FROM JOHN W. FORNEY S BuOK. 

FORREST A HUMORIST. HE IS ONLY AN ACTOR. 

HENRY CLAY. ANECDOTE, 302 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

STATE OF THE DRAMA. AMERICAN ACTORS. A RE 
VIEW OF THE CAUSE OF THE ASTOR PLACE RIOTS. 

MACREADY S FIRST AND SECOND MOVE. THE AP 
PROACHING STORM. LAWYER S ADVICE, - - 311 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

MACREADY S THIRD MOVE. FORREST S CARD. MA 
CREADY S REPLY. WILLIAM B. REED S LETTER. 

DIGNIFIED SILENCE. THE B HOYS. MAY 7TH, 1849. 

ASTOR PLACE OPERA HOUSE. FIRST SYMPTOMS OF A 

EIOT. JOHN BULL DEFYING BROTHER JONATHAN, - 322 

CHAPTER XXX. 

THE 19TH OF MAY, 1849. JAMES WATSON WEBB. 
APPEAL TO THE WORKING MEN. THE MILITARY PRE 
PARE TO FIRE. THdEATSiOF THE MOB. ALARM IN 

THE GREEN-ROOM. THE WORD GIVEN. FIRE ! THE 
FEARFUL CLOSE OF THE RIOT. DEATH ! - 333 

CHAPTER XXXI. 

THE CAUSES LEADING TO THE DIVORCE BETWEEN MR. 

FORREST AND HIS WIFE. DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AMERICAN AND ENGLISH LIFE. 

MRS. FORREST. STATE OF THE DRAMA. ENGLISH 

ACTORS, AND ACTRESSES. A LEGAL OPINION. COR 
RUPT LEGISLATURE, - ... 345 

CHAPTER XXXII. 

THE FIRST CAUSE OF SUSPICION. STARTLING DISCLO 
SURES. JAM1ESON AT BAY. THE PHRENOLOGIST. 

THE DISCOVERY. PRIVATE DRAWER. THE LETTER. 

SEi ARATIUN. MR. FORil&bT s LETTER TO Hid WIFE, 355 



30 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 

MRS. FORREST S LETTER. REPLY. TEIE CONSUELO LET 
TER. .SKETCH OP GEORGE JAMIESON. HIS FEARFUL 

DEATH. RETRIBUTION ! - - 3G3 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

AFTER THE TRIAL HIS APPEARANCE AT THE BROADWAY 

THEATRE. RECEPTION. SPEECH. FIRST APPEARANCE 

OF MRS. CATHARINE N. SINCLAIR (FORREST) AS AN 

ACTRESS. AN OLD PLAY-BITL. UNJUST CRITICISM. 

Mil. FORRLST AS AN ARTIST, - - - 370 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

COMPLIMENTARY BENEFIT TO JAMES W. WALLACK. 

MR. FORREST AS CLAUDE MELNOTTE. THE ORIGINAL 

IN THE CHARACTER. CAST. RETIRES TO PRIVATE 

LIFE. HOME ON BROAD STREET. THE POOR SOLDIER. 

FORREST S LIBERALITY. RENEWS HIS PROFESSION. 

GREAT SUCCESS IN SHAKEoPERIAN CilAUACTERS, - 377 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL LABOR. FORREST S ENERGY. 

GREAT WESTERN AND SOUTHERN TOUR CONTEMPLATED. 

PREPARES HIMSELF FOR THE TASK. STARTS FROM 

PHILADELPHIA. COLUMBUS. CINCINNATI. OHIO, - 385 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

KANSAS CITY. FORRESTANIA. ST. LOUIS. HIS GREAT 

SUCCESS. CRITICISMS. A MINISTER CONVERTED BY 

HIS ELOQUENCE. ACCEPTS AN INVITATION TO BOSTON. 

SICKNESS. JAMES OAKES LETTER. RETURN HOME, 392 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

RETROSPECTION. YOUTHFUL REMINISCENCES. FAIR- 
MOUNT. OLDEN TIME. PLACE OF REHEARSAL. A 

CLOSE STUDENT. PRIVATE LIFE. COAT OF ARMS. 

THE IDIOT BOY PuEM, - - - - - - 401 



CONTENTS. 31 

CHAPTER XXXrX. 

PAG. 

OUR DRAMATIC AUTHORS THE STAGE. RICHARD PENN 

SMITH S CAIUS MARIUS. WHEN FIRST PRODUCED. 

HOW IT WAS RECEIVED. AN AUTHOR S TRIALS. HIS 
GOOD NATURE. EXTRACT FROM THE PLAY. ANEC 
DOTES, - - - - 412 

CHAPTER XL. 

DR. ROBERT MONTGOMERY BIRD. HIS BIRTH AND EDU 
CATION. STUDIES MEDICINE. BECOMES A POET. 

CELEBRATED AS A NOVELIST. FAMOUS AS A DRAMA 
TIST. THE GLADIATOR A GREAT SUCCESS. FORREST 

AS SPARTACUS. ORALOOSA. BRuKER OP BOGOTA, - 421 

CHAPTER XLI. 

ROBERT T. CONRAD. SKETCH OF HIS LIFE. HE STUDIES 
LAW. A POLITICIAN, POET, AND DRAMATIST. BE 
COMES AN EDITOR. WAS RECORDER OF THE NORTHERN 
LIBERTIES. IS APPOINTED JUDGE OF THE COURT OF 
QUARTER SESSIONS. IS ELECTED MAYOR OF THE CITY 
OF PHILADELPHIA. RESUMES THE PRACTICE OF THE 
LAW. JACK CADE. ITS GREAT SUCCESS. A COMPLI 
MENT TO OUR LITERATURE. EXTRACTS FROM THE 

PLAY. G. H. MILES, AUTHOR, OF MOHAMMED, - - 431 

CHAPTER XLII. 

MR. FORREST AS A READER^ HAMLET HIS CONCEPTION 

OF THE CHARACTER. WONDERFUL POWERS OF DELINE 
ATION. HIS LAST APPEARANCE BEFORE THE PUBLIC, 

AS AN ACTOR AND A READER, 442 

CHAPTER XLIII. 

THE LIBRARY^ DESCRIPTION OF THE PICTURE GALLERY. 

RELICS. CURIOSITIES. SHAKESPEARE S CORNER. 

SAD EVENTS ANTICIPATED PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS. 
THE LOST FOLIO. LOVE OF POETRY. LINES ON THE 
DEATH OF A FRlbND, - - - - - -440 



32 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XLIV. 

PACK. 

FORREST IN HIS PICTURE GALLERY. LOVE OF ART. 

THE LIBRARY. REPEATING THE LORD S PRAYER. THE 

MINISTER AND THE ACTOR CONTRASTED. WINE AND 

GRAPES. THE OLD BIBLE. REFERENCE TO THE FOLIO 

OF 16*23. THE RESULT. THE HISTORY OF THIS EDI 
TION OF SHAKESPEARE S PLAYS. UNJUST CRITICISM. 

THE LAST SCENE IN THE LIBRARY, - - 460 

CHAPTER XLY. 

CLOSE OF A BRILLIANT CAREER. THE UNCERTAINTY OF 

LIFE. FAREWELL. OUR LAST INTERVIEW, TUESDAY 

EVENING, DECEMBER 10TH, 1872. TERRIBLE AN 
NOUNCEMENT. DEATH, ... 479 

CHAPTER XLYI. 

THE EULOGIES OF THE PRESS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. 
THE SUNDAY DISPATCH. THE FUNERAL. THE BODY. 

THE COFFIN. SURROUNDING OBJECTS THE IVORY 

CRUCIFIX EXCITEMENT AMONG THE CROWD. THE 

DOORS THROWN OPEN. INCIDENTS AT THE FUNERAL. 

TESTIMONIALS LOTUS CLUB, OF NEW YORK. THE 

VAULT. THE LAST CEREMONY. BEAUTIFUL POEMS, - 488 

CHAPTER XLVII. 

THE WILL OF EDWIN FORREST, - - 500 

CHAPTER XL VIII. 

AN ACT TO INCORPORATE " THE EDWIN FORREST HOME," 510 

CHAPTER XLIX. 

COMMENTS ON THE WILL OF EDWIN FORREST. SOME 
THING IN REGARD TO THE LOCALITY OF THE "EDWIN 
FORREST HOME." WILL IT SUIT THE VETERANS OF 

THE STAGE? TOO FAR OUT OF TOWN. SPRINGBROOK 

IN THE MARKET FOR SALE ! THE WIFE S CLAIM. 

OBJECTIONABLE CLAUSE. THE PROPER PLACE FOR 
THE HOME, - - 517 




LIFE OF EDWIN FOBREST. 



CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTION TO THE WORK. 

THvR. JOHNSON, speaking of Biographical writing, 
-*-* says: 

" No species of writing seems more worthy of cul 
tivation than biography, since none can be more de 
lightful or more useful, none can more certainly enchain 
the heart by irresistible interest, or more widely diffuse 
instruction to every diversity of condition." History 
allows full scope to the writer in the exercise of his 
pen, if it be impartial, the world will readily ac 
knowledge its truthfulness if otherwise, it becomes 
personal, or simply national, and intended to exalt 
some one, or some nation at the expense of another. 
History therefore is doubtful, biography truthful. 
Reminiscences of an individual includes biography 
and history, and if the author is not swayed by pre 
judice, the public will find the subject-matter an index 
to the true character of the person of whom he treats. 

One other feature in these reminiscences of Mr. 
Edwin Forrest, is the lesson they are likely to con- 
2 (33) 



34 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

vey to the young, the aspiring and ambitious. Forrest 
was the architect of his own fortune, and commanded 
the Grenii of the mind to open to his view the wealth of 
the intellectual world ; into that world, at an early 
age, he entered, an obscure boy of humble birth, and 
iron fortune, fighting his way up to an eminence in 
the profession he had adopted, without those ad 
ventitious circumstances which made a Grarrick and 
Kemble great ; with Forrest : 

" Ambition was an idol on whose wings, 
Great minds are carried only to extreme 
To be sublimely great, or to be nothing." 

The profession of an actor, unfortunately for our 
stage, is not considered in the same light as are the 
other learned professions, and yet it requires as much 
study, application and practice as that of any other 
coming under the above head. In the question of the 
character of the stage, and its lawfulness, involves in a 
great measure that of the actor. If the stage be in 
itself unlawful, then the actor can lay no claim to the 
title of a professor but if it is lawful, both as regards 
morals, and the requirements of great intellectual 
power, why is he debarred the admittance into the 
temple of the universe of letters ? The stage has al 
ways been considered as a source of moral instruction, 
as well as of amusement, the profession therefore is not 
only innocent, but useful and commendable. 

A writer has said : " Of the various trades and pro 
fessions, to which men have recourse, either to gratify 
their inclinations or to procure a livelihood, there is 
not one particularly of those called liberal, more labo 
rious, or wasteful of life, than that of an actor, and 
more especially a tragedian." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 35 

To arrive at consummate excellence requires inde 
fatigable study, unwearied practice, and the utmost 
exertion of the vocal organs ; not to mention the 
violent bodily exercise frequently demanded ; and 
above all, the violent agitation of alternate passions, 
which though assumed, are often very deeply felt, and 
which being felt, must naturally impair the vigor of 
the animal spirits, and " exhaust the lamp of life." 

"It does not require the physical or anatomical 
skill of an M. D.," says the editor of the " Dramatic 
Mirror," "to understand how intimately the passions 
and feelings are connected with the bodily frame and 
affect it; how destructive they often prove to health 
how fatal to life itself; and yet, without feeling and 
passion, what is a player?" A French actor, the 
Garrick of France, says: "Rules may teach us not to 
raise the arms above the head ; but if passion carries 
them there, it will be well done." Passion knows more 
than art. And yet, although we admit this strain 
upon the mental and physical strength of an actor, 
still there are but few instances of an actor s career 
inducing short life. Over exertion, whether on the 
stage, in the pulpit, or at the bar, has produced fatal 
results ; but this may probably be owing to other 
causes not apparent to the eye of a casual observer. 
An eminent French actor, Montfleury, died of his 
violent exertions in performing Orestes, in the An 
dromache of Racine. Win. B. Wood broke a blood 
vessel while enacting Brutus, and Edwin Forrest was 
carried out to the green-room on one occasion while 
playing Lear, in an unconscious state, caused by a rush 
of blood to the head, and yet, both of these gentlemen 
lived to a " good old age." 



36 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Another remarkable fact in connection with the 
lives of actors, is that people generally, without 
thought or reflection say: "Oh! they do not live 
long ; their habits and associations are such as to 
shorten their lives." This is not so. We admit 
there are some cases, and fearful ones too, of the 
death of actors, at an early age, from the causes to 
which rumor alluded ; but they are few, compared to 
the destruction of human life in other branches of the 
liberal arts from the same causes. Again, while our 
alms-houses and prisons are the homes of many who 
were once the pride and ornaments of society, there is 
not a single actor, at the present writing, an inmate of 
either of these institutions. A tree, it is said, is 
judged by its fruit that of the stage can therefore be 
judged by this fact in connection with our criminal 
records. An idea once advanced that the theatre is an 
improper source of amusement, becomes in time a serious 
charge. At different periods of stage history, learned 
men have advocated the stage as being a " school of 
virtue " " a warm incentive to virtue, and a powerful 
preservative against vice " " and a perpetual source 
of the most noble and useful entertainments " " the 
mirror of a nation s virtue." By others it has been 
branded as " the school of impiety " " the porch of 
hell" "the house of the devil" "the sink of cor 
ruption and debauchery." There is one peculiar fact 
in connection with these antagonistical disputants, and 
that is, those who defend the drama were the most 
eminent of the period in which they wrote, viz : 
" Addison, John Styles, D. D., Wm. Gilpin, author of 
the Exposition of the New Testament, Rev. I. Plump- 
tree, Dr. Johnson, Richard Cumberland, Dr. Owen, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 37 

Milton, Sir Kichard Blackmore, and Dr. Watts." As 
this gentleman s name is so piously identified with 
our church history, we deem it advisable here to give 
his opinion of stage performances. In his " Discourse 
on the Education of Children/ he says : " It is granted, 
that a dramatic representation of the affairs of human 
life, is by no means sinful in itself; I am inclined to 
think, that valuable compositions might be made of 
this kind, such as might entertain a virtuous audience 
with innocent delight, and even with some good profit. 
Such have been written in French, and have been acted 
with applause." [Works, vol. vi. p. 376. See also 
Preface to his Horce LyriwJ] 

To these we may add the names of the philosopher 
Plato, Bishop Rundle, Dr. Gregory, and the learned 
and pious Hugh Blair, D. D. In giving the names of a 
few of those who advocated the stage at a time when 
the stage commanded both notice and respect, it may 
be well to state that its opponents were quite as nu 
merous, many of whom stood high in the world of let 
ters, but they were more or less influenced by that 
spirit of fanaticism which no argument, however strong, 
can ever overcome. 

Indiscriminate praise, or indiscriminate censure 
are alike injurious to any cause, and equally indispose 
the friends or the enemies of it to an inquiry into 
its true merits ; and when we find such very opposite 
opinions prevail upon any subject, the probability is, 
that truth lies somewhere between these two extreme 
points. 

Our stage history furnishes numerous instances of 
this same spirit of opposition, but if we trace it from 
the year 1752 gradually down to the erection of the old 



38 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Chestnut Street Theatre 1793, and follow it step by 
step to the advent of a class of actors educated in the 
profession and who had made it a life s study, we have 
a history of the stage and the drama that finds no 
parallel in the annals of the world. 

Connected with this era in our stage history is the 
subject of these " Reminiscences," and if we fail to 
identify him with its legitimate character, it is because 
a class of actors and sensational dramas have lessened 
the histrionic art in the estimation of those whose duty 
it was to maintain, and shield it from these pretenders, 
to a profession of which they have not the slightest 
claim. The result has been ruinous to the moral char 
acter of our stage, and can only be remedied by a firm 
determination to discountenance everything that is cal 
culated to lessen its influence as a corrective, as well as 
a curative of evil. 

If the evil attached to a theatre be no part of its 
inherent quality, but arises merely from the abuse of it, 
and which is in the power of its frequenters and prop 
erly constituted authorities to correct ; and if this pow 
erful engine can be further made to promote the cause 
of virtue, and, with that, indirectly if not directly, the 
cause of religion, then does it become our duty to sepa 
rate the evil from the good, and to make it such as all 
good men and women may frequent. "Next to the 
church, a theatre should be a place for people to visit, 
if it is not made unlawful, and contrary to the spirit 
of our religion. And that visiting acting, or attending 
it, is inconsistent with the character of a Christian/ 
John Witherspoon, D. D. 

If the views expressed in these remarks should give 
offence to those who have control of our theatres, they 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 39 

must attribute them to the desire we have to restore 
our stage to its former noble and legitimate character ; 
our desire has ever been to see our stage and drama 
based upon a firm principle, so as to be the arbiters, the 
guardians, and the guides of the public taste and 
morals. 



CHAPTER II. 

EDWIN FORREST S BIRTH AND PARENTAGE. HIS AN 

CESTRY. - EARLY STRUGGLES. - HIS FATHER A RUN 

NER IN STEPHEN GIRARD S BANK. ALEXANDER 

WILSON, THE ORNITHOLOGIST. - YOUNG FORREST S 
TUTOR. - EDWIN A GREAT MIMIC. - HIS EARLY INCLI 
NATION FOR THE STAGE MANIFESTED. - PARENTAL 
OPPOSITION. HIS EDUCATION. - A STORE BOY. 
PLAY-BOOK AND DAY-BOOK TOO NEAR TO EACH 
OTHER. - LECTURED BY HIS EMPLOYER. THE RE 
SULT. 



FORREST was born in the city of Phila- 
delphia, March 9th, 1806, in what was known as 
Old Southwark. The small house in which his parents 
resided was in George Street, and until within a few 
years could be pointed out as the birth-place of the 
great tragedian. His father, William Forrest, was a 
Scotchman, a native of Dumfrieshire, a frontier county 
of Scotland. In a small village, near Solway Frith, 
there is a graveyard attached to a small church, upon 
many a simple slab the stranger will read the name 
of "Forrest," some of which bear date far back to 



40 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

some distant period. William Forrest came to this 
country a man grown, and like most of his country 
men was both industrious and saving. It some 
how happened that he settled in Trenton, N. J., and 
there commenced business failed and came to Phil 
adelphia. 

In 1791, he was engaged at the Dispensary, No. 68 
Chestnut Street, old number. In 1794 he again com 
menced business, and opened a store, No. 26 South 
Second Street. In 1797, he removed to No. 10 North 
Front Street. While engaged in mercantile business 
he was in the habit of going around among merchants 
and selling goods by sample, in fact, he was what at 
that time was called a pedler, or, as they termed it in 
his own country, Scotland, " Commercial Traveller." In 
the mean time he became acquainted" with a Miss Ke- 
becca Lauman, a young lady of German descent, born 
in this country the result was she became Mrs. Wil 
liam Forrest. The business in which her husband was 
engaged did not exactly meet the views of herself and 
family, for there is an aristocracy even in the middle 
classes, and the occupation of a pedler of merchandise 
they considered one step down the social ladder of life. 
The result was a change of base, and we next find him 
holding a subordinate position in the old United States 
Bank ; place of residence (1802) No. 51 George Street, 
where he resided up to the year 1810. George Street 
is to be found on the old city map, as running from 
No. 24 Gaskell Street to No. 31 German Street. In 
1814 the family removed to No. 55 Shippen Street, 
where they resided until 1818. 

At the close of the United States Bank, his friend, 
Stephen Girard, who had started one of his own, enti- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 41 

tied " The Girard Bank," offered him a situation in it, 
which he retained until the day of his death. 

In 1818 the family removed to No. 77 Cedar Street, 
where shortly afterwards he died. In 1819, we find 
the name of Mrs. Kehecca Forrest, widow, No. 77 
Cedar Street, where she resided up to 1827-8. 

The writer of this knew Mrs. Forrest when thus 
left a widow with six children, as one of the most in 
dustrious women of the day. Indeed, industrious she 
had to be, with a large family, and but little means. 

The parents of Edwin Forrest were religious, and 
regular attendants at church, and he accompanied them 
frequently. At the early age of seven he displayed 
wonderful powers of memory, and also those of imita 
tion. It is said that his father first intended him for the 
Church. He would amuse Ijis parents by reciting from 
memory, passages of the sermon, and give a tolerable 
imitation of the minister s voice, manner and style. 
This happy pulpit aptitude of their son confirmed their 
pious purpose ; but the death of the father put an end 
at once and forever to his prospects of advancement in 
any of the liberal professions. 

Among the most distinguished men of the day, who 
discovered the remarkable talents of young Forrest, 
was Alexander Wilson, the celebrated ornithologist. 
He selected appropriate passages from authors, and got 
the "youthful prodigy," as he called him, to recite 
them. Mr. Wilson was a regular visitor to the family, 
and would on every occasion listen to the recitations of 
his pupil, and then reward him by presenting him with 
the pictures of his great work, entitled " American Or 
nithology," then passing through the press. Alexan 
der Wilson possessed considerable taste for literature, 



42 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

and published several poems of much beauty. As For 
rest was born in 1806, and Wilson died in 1814, the 
former it will be perceived, at that period was only 
eight years of age ! 

Lauman Forrest was the eldest son, he was a mo 
rocco dresser, and when we first knew him he was work 
ing on Willow Street, above Second. He was the tall 
est of the family, being over six feet and to use a fa 
miliar expression, was "as straight as an arrow/ He 
used to take Edwin with him to the work shop, where 
he gave his first recitation in public, standing on a 
marble slab used by the men for dressing leather. His 
audience were the workmen. 

These early dramatic shoots from a fertile brain, 
tinctured with a Shakesperian hue, soon began to blos 
som. It may be said that Edwin Forrest was born an 
actor, for at that early age his readings and recitations 
were considered as wonderful. Lauman Forrest died 
in South America ; a younger brother died in infancy v 
William Forrest, the third son, was a printer. 

After the death of the father, the three daughters, 
Henrietta, Caroline and Elenora, opened a millinery 
store, No. 77 Cedar Street, while their mother added 
to their scanty means by binding shoes. It was a life- 
struggle ; but they all bore up bravely, and fought the 
fight that in the end was to be victorious. 

Forrest, like most young men of his age and sta 
tion, received an education such as the limited means 
of his parents afforded. But what of that, the mind, 
the incompressible mind, is the tutor of man ; it can 
grasp and bring from unlimited space all the elements 
which tend to make a genius. It is the mystery, whose 
power is in itself, to will and control. Mind 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 43 

" Makes the body rich ; 

And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds, 
So honor peareth in the meanest habit. 
What, is the jay more precious than the lark, 
Because his feathers are more beautiful ? 
Or is the adder better than the eel, 
Because his painted skin contents the eye ? " 

If Forrest s parents had been wealthy, or the school 
system at that period as it is now, one grand National 
Seminary, his mind and intellect would have received 
the impress of the master spirit education. Still, 
man is the architect of his own fortunes, and can com 
mand, as he advances on to manhood, those agencies 
which act as tutors to genius. 

Forrest was taken from school when he was about 
ten years of age, a good stout boy for his years. It was 
necessary for each one to contribute something to the 
support of the family, and a situation was obtained for 
him in the store of Mr. Tiers, ship-chandler, on the 
wharf. His next situation was with Messrs. Baker & 
Son, importers of German goods. The .store was situ 
ated on Kace Street, below Third, next door to the 
old tavern of " The King of Prussia." At this time 
Forrest had a strong inclination to study play-books, 
and took great delight in hearing talk of theatres and 
actors. While in the employ of these gentlemen, it so 
occurred that the writings of one William Shakespeare 
were not unfrequently found in close proximity with 
the day-book. Mr. Baker was a very worthy and pious 
man, and frequently remonstrated with Edwin about 
his predilection for the stage ; and one day remarked, 
in his own peculiar style and manner of speaking, 
" Edwin, my boy, this theoretical infatuation will be 
your ruin." 

How often are the aged mistaken in giving advice 



44 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

to the young ! for the poor, struggling actor boy, in the 
year 1829, presented his mother and sisters with a fine 
house, and gave them a suitable income, from his first 
earnings as a star; and in that year we find the name 
of Mrs. Kebecca Forrest in the directory, living at No. 
144, old number, North Tenth Street. Father, mother, 
brother and sisters passed away from earth, and 
Edwin Forrest, when death laid his cold hand upon 
him, was the last of his race. 



CHAPTER III. 

IMITATES THESPIS OF OLD. FORMS A THESPIAN CLUB. 

PLACE OF MEETING. PLEASING REMINISCENCES. 

HE INHALES THE GAS. DEVELOPS HIS STAGE 

PROCLIVIT **- OLD SOUTH STREET THEATRE. 

PLAYS A MHlN PART - STRANGE DRESS. SHOWS 

TEMPER.%8E&YS ANNA IN DOUGLAS. POOR ED 
MUND, THE BLIND BOY. CHARLES S. PORTER AND 

JAMES H. HACKETT. AN AMUSING INCIDENT. SOME 

ACCOUNT OF THE OLD APOLLO THEATRE. DROP 

CURTAIN AND SCENERY. DESTRUCTION OF THE 
THEATRE BY FIRE. 

r I ^HESPIS, a Greek poet, born at Icaria, in Attica, 
J- flourished B. C. 576. He is considered as the 
inventor of tragedy, from his having introduced actors 
in addition to the chorus. His stage is said to have 
been a cart; and the faces of the performers were 
smeared with wine lees, or, according to Suidas, with 
white lead and vermillion. As regards the latter, the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 45 

custom as established nearly 2500 years ago is still 
retained with the exception of the white lead, as the 
nineteenth century has materially improved the means 
of beautifying the human face by less injurious cos 
metics. 

Edwin Forrest, like that great master of art from 
whose advent we may date tragedy, and equally 
ambitious to be the founder of a youthful com 
pany of comedians, determines to form a Thespian 
Club. 

Various were the modes resorted to, to carry out 
this object. The first place selected for the purpose 
was a room in a small house immediately in the rear 
of Jacob Zelin s tavern, situated on Chestnut Street, be 
low Fifth, north side. In after years this spot was oc 
cupied by Parkinson as a confectionery. There were 
two or three Thespian Societies about this time, and it 
is a curious fact that it was not uj|Lyoung Forrest 
took the lead in them that any a ^^HjK was P a ^ t 
the properties or costume., nor is 1! n.-mie among 

those belonging to either of the others that ever figured 
on the legitimate stage. Forrest was not more than 
eleven years of age when, with his little company, he 
opened in the room mentioned above. 

The second attempt was much better, both as re 
garded his company and locality. The place selected 
was in the second story of an old house then, and still 
standing, at the north-west corner of Harmony Court 
and Hudson s Alley. Here.it was that the spirit of 
Shakespeare animated the soul of the "boy that was to 
assume, in after years, the sole right of being the rep 
resentative of the ennobling characters of the bard s 
transcend ant creations. There was no boyishness about 



46 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

this Thespian Club no play-house for children, but for 
men to see and applaud. 

" The Mortonians " was the first association estab 
lished by amateurs. This company was organized in. 
1812. The incentive to this was the extraordinary 
success of Master John Howard Payne, who created a 
great excitement in this city in the year 1811, and 
whose genius and talent were not unfrequently com 
pared with those of Cooke, Cooper and Fennell. Payne 
turned the heads of half the young men of the town. 
Foremost among those who were eager to become famous 
was Jackson Gray, his age was about the same as that 
of Payne. He was a lad in the hardware store of Wayne 
& Biddle, south-west corner of Market and Front 
Streets, but subsequently was apprenticed to Jane 
Aitken, printer. TMs society soon joined the one 
established by Edwin Forrest, and the old South Street 
Theatre became the scene of their youthful efforts to 
master the art and science of acting. We annex the 
names of those who were the most active in the 
cause. Among them will be found several who in after 
years became popular as actors, while others distin 
guished themselves in other branches of the liberal 
arts. Our readers will recognize the names of one or 
more who rose to eminence as writers, editors, and 
politicians. Joseph C. Neal, author of " Charcoal 
Sketches ; " M. M. Noah, distinguished both as an 
editor and dramatic author ; Jackson Gray, Anthony Sey- 
fert, Benjamin Mifflin, Washington Dawson, and R. 
Meers, printers ; Harris G. Pearson, Hernizen, Chalkly 
Baker (this gentleman, better known in after years as a 
ward politician, kept the old Race Street House, wherein 
General Andrew Jackson was first spoken of and nom- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 47 

mated for the Presidency); Captain Klett, Thomas 
Reed, Frank Savoy (carpenter); Robert Cooper, J. 
McKibben, A. Phillips, Charles Webb (subsequently 
an actor of great merit); Jack Moore (bookbinder, 
served his time with Robert Desilver); I. C. Higgins 
(joined Cald well s company in New Orleans) ; Fred. 
Saillac, Robert Laidley (known as an actor of some pre- 
tentions to tragedy); Adam Levy (broker); William 
Carr, Michael Monier, Samuel Ward (subsequently 
turned his attention to the ministry) ; West Blair 
(rose to the position of a pilot on board a Mississippi 
steamer), John Heyl (vocalist). These were all mem 
bers of the profession ; among their friends and youthful 
companions were Edward King (afterward Judge of 
the Court), John Swift, Jesse R. Burden, and the 
writer of these reminiscences. Of the above named, 
the last two alone are living. 

It is melancholy to roll up the curtain of the past, 
and equally so for memory to people the stage and the 
auditorium with these, our friends, associates and 
companions. All gay, happy and full of youthful as 
pirations for the great future, looking forward, at least 
some of them, to have their names recorded on the 
dramatic page, bright stars of the . " mimic world." 
One only of these ever reached any degree of eminence 
in the profession. And now, he too, is gone, and others 
gained a name in literature, art and science ; others 
again went down the dark stream of life in sorrow, 
misery, suicide, ignoble death. Let silence be their 
epitaph oblivion their tomb ! 

" When I remember all 

The friends, so link d together, 
I ve seen around me fall, 

Like leaves in wintry weather, 



48 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

I feel like one 

"Who treads alone 
Some banquet hall deserted, 

Whose lights are fled, 

Whose garlands dead, 
And all but he departed." . 

One little incident in Edwin Forrest s career we 
will relate here, as it attracted the attention of Colonel 
John Swift, and was the cause of that gentleman 
taking such an interest in his " young proteg/." We 
were one evening in the Tivoli Garden, situated on 
Market Street near Broad, north side, some time in 
the year 1817, when a professor of chemistry was ad 
ministering what at that time was called "laughing 
gas." Some very amusing scenes occurred, arising 
from its effect on those who inhaled it. At last a fine 
looking lad, whose age might have been about thirteen 
years, presented himself to the man of science to be 
experimented upon. As we have observed, he was a 
fine looking boy, neck bare, a large shirt collar thrown 
back over that of a blue roundabout ; for boys at that 
period did not wear men s style of coats. His features 
were manly, bold, but not forward or impertinent 
in their varying emotions ; he also had a fine head of 
hair which gathered in clustering curls around his 
well-formed neck. He was what we should call a model 
boy. He inhaled the gas ; immediately after the bag 
was removed he started out on the gravel walk, and 
throwing himself into a position peculiarly dramatic, 
he recited a portion of Norval s speech and also of 
Kichard III., but ere he got through, the current of his 
mind changed, and he made a dash at the bystanders, 
and a race ensued. The effect of the gas passing off, 
lie came to himself, and, looking wildly around upon 



jLIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 49 

the laughing crowd, he rushed away and was seen no 
more in the Garden. That boy was EDWIN FORREST. 

OLD SOUTH STREET THEATRE. 

The appearance of the old South Street Theatre on 
the evenings of these Thespian performances was 
gloomy in the extreme ; the stage and the auditorium 
partly lit up, gave to the wood scenes and old castles 
a still more sombre hue ; added to which two aged 
musicians, hired for the occasion, gave forth some old 
Barbara Allen air, which came up from the orchestra 
like the notes of some ill-fated swan. Then the 
characters on the stage with long assassin-like cloaks, 
high brigand hats, with huge feathers, each one grasp 
ing awful looking knives, made one s blood chill at the 
very sight. The audience occasionally indulged in 
some critical remarks loud enough to be heard by the 
actors. On one occasion when Forrest was playing the 
fair Kosolio to Charles S. Porter s Kudolph, a pugna 
cious boy in the pit made some observations on fair 
Kosolio s dress. This dress has since been the subject of 
much comment, and by some denied as being but the 
creation of our fancy, for we were the first to describe 
it. The editor of the Press, in his obituary notice of 
Mr. Forrest, mentioned, or rather quoted it from our 
description given some eighteen years ago, and it 
may be well to describe it here, as probably many 
may not have seen the Press, or our allusion to it. 
This play was the Robbers of Calabria. Our ac 
count read thus: "Forrest s dress on that occasion 
was not marked by that artistical taste which has since 
been such a prominent feature in his impersonation of 
character. It was one we shall never forget. He wore 
3 



50 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

thick, heavy shoes, coarse woollen stockings, appertain 
ing to a bluish color, a short white dress reaching, with 
some difficulty, to his knees ; on his head he wore a 
bright scarf, intended to represent a sort of turban 
fashion of the sixteenth century. Every allusion the 
lover makes to Tier beauty, and the symmetry of her 
person, and that matchless excellence which is to be 
found always in the object of our affections, the audi 
ence laughed at most heartily, and well they might, 
although Forrest and Porter played their respective 
parts as if no other manifestations than that of delight 
were given. The pugnacious boy alluded to, however, 
carried the joke a little too far, for Forrest walked 
deliberately down to the feeble foot-lights, and, shaking 
his fist at the pugnacious boy, said in a loud voice, 
"I ll whip you when the play is over." This -silenced 
the boy, and the play went on. 

In after years when speaking of the dress he wore 
on the occasion, he said : " The dress gave the most 
trouble, I was under the impression in the morning 
that I could get one at the theatre. Satisfied of this, 
I made no attempt to get one, when, to my surprise, I 
found there was nothing in the theatre wardrobe to 
suit. Something must be done. I remembered that 
there was a woman living near the theatre who had a 
daughter about my size. Away I started, found the 
woman, and coaxed, begged it of her, and gave her and 
her daughter a pass to see me in female costume. I 
carried off the dress in triumph, but, alas ! when I put 
it on, it came, just as you say, to my knees. Judge 
under what difficulty I played the fair Rosolio." 

" Then/ he went on, " that rascally boy who an 
noyed me, and whom I threatened, as you know. Well, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 51 

after the play was over I looked out for him, and I 
believe he was looking out for me. It was the 
hardest fight I ever had, and to this day I cannot tell 
who conquered. One thing, however, I do remem 
ber. We became excellent friends, and he took every 
opportunity afterward of keeping good order among 
the boys." 

It may be well to state that this "rascally boy" be 
came a wealthy man, and to the day of his death was 
one of Mr. Forrest s warmest friends. 

CHARLES S. PORTER. 

One name we purposely omitted on the foregoing 
list, as it deserves a more special notice CHARLES 
S. PORTER. It is a name identified with that of the sub 
ject of these reminiscences in the earliest scenes of their 
amateur performances. Mr. Porter was born in Bur 
lington Co. N. J., July 25th, 1797. His parents remo 
ving to the city of Philadelphia, he was placed in the 
newspaper office of The Freeman s Journal, to learn 
the art of printing. He soon formed the acquaintance 
of the members of the Amateur Theatrical Clubs, and 
became one of the stars of the old South Street Theatre. 
The first time we saw him play, was in the year 1818, 
on which occasion he played Young Norval, to For 
rest s Anna, in the tragedy of Douglas. 

It may appear strange to some of our readers in 
thus speaking of Mr. Forrest s impersonating female 
characters. It must be observed in this connection that 
as a boy he was remarkably handsome, and could har 
monize his voice so as to imitate most admirably that 
of a female ; then it must be taken into consideration 
that the audience was composed of the friends of the 



52 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

actors, except on some occasion for a benefit either of a 
member, or some society. 

His second appearance was as Rudolph in The 
Bobbers of Calabria, Forrest playing the part of the 
beautiful Rosolio. The friendship between these two 
young men, although Porter was much older, was of the 
Damon and Pythias order, and continued nearly up 
to their death. When they were both aged men, a 
simple circumstance broke the chain of friendship which 
had linked them together for nearly forty years. We 
can only say here, without referring to the cause, that 
Mr. Forrest was to blame. 

Mr. Porter was the leading actor at the Old South 
Street Theatre. On one occasion the play being the 
Blind Boy, he had occasion to apologize to the audi 
ence for the young man who was to have played Ed 
mund, the Blind Boy, and another was called upon 
to read the part. His first appearance is on a bridge, 
where he is seen, threading his way, with a cane in one 
hand and the play-book in the other. Whilst his eyes 
were riveted on the book, his cane was busily engaged 
in feeling his way. This was too ludicrous, and poor 
Edmund, the blind boy, had no sympathy from the au 
dience that night. One night we remember reading 
the following card, printed and stuck against the door 
of the box office : 

SOUTH STREET THEATRE, 1816. To-morrow night Clias. S. Por 
ter will enact the Man of Fortitude, being; for his benefit. Tickets 
to be had at the Coffee House, and at Tom Bloxton s. In the 
evening, at the door of the theatre. Members of Amateur Associa 
tions, and his brother typos, please take notice. 

Mr. Porter played in all the minor theatres of this 
city, "Tivoli Garden/ "Vauxhall Garden," "Prune 
Street Theatre," and the " Old Apollo, " until his dra 
matic excellence attracted the attention of William 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 53 

B. Wood, of the Chestnut Street Theatre, where he 
became a great favorite with the public. In the year 
1826, May 16th, he took a benefit, on which occasion, 
his friend Edwin Forrest, proffered his services, and 
played Pierre to Mr. Porter s Jaffier. As he advanced 
in the profession, he became in time manager, and 
no man ever enjoyed the confidence of the public 
as did Mr. Porter when he became the lessee of the 
Pittsburg and Vicksburg theatres. As manager, actor, 
gentleman and scholar, Mr. Porter lived and died 
universally esteemed and regretted. His decease oc 
curred October 5th, 1867. 

JAMES H. HACKETT. 

The following incident in connection with Charles 
S. Porter and James H. Hackett, is too good to be lost. 
Shortly after Mr. Porter left the Old South Street 
Theatre, he went to New York and offered himself to 
Messrs. Price and Simpson. He was refused. While 
in New York he formed the acquaintance of young 
Hackett, another stage-struck hero, and they concluded 
to make a theatrical tour on their own " hook," and 
Newark, N. J., was fixed upon as the most suitable 
place to make a beginning. The entertainment con 
sisted of readings and recitations. It proved a failure. 
Hackett had assumed the name of Young, but Porter 
retained his own. From Newark they proceeded to 
New Brunswick. Here they were more fortunate. 
An amusing incident occurred to these aspiring youths 
while here, which we think worth relating. A military 
band, composed of young men of the place, had, in the 
most friendly manner, volunteered to perform for them. 
A full house was anticipated. From some unforeseen 



54 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

cause they failed to appear. The audience became im 
patient, to allay which it was necessary that an apology 
should be made. It is a curious fact in the history of 
actors that speech-making comprises no part of their 
study. Hence it is that when it is necessary to address 
n audience, many of them are worse than the veriest 
amateur of a Thespian Association. We have known 
Duff to stammer to such a degree that his remarks 
were perfectly unintelligible. Even Cooper became 
nervous, and Jefferson, who was the life and soul of a 
farce, could not make a speech without exhibiting the 
utmost confusion. Hackett and Porter were exactly in 
this position, and were compelled to engage the ser 
vices of a printer s devil, a real genuine specimen of 
that mysterious Satanic class, to make the necessary 
apology. It was to this effect : That in consequence 
of the non-arrival of the band, Mr. Young would, in 
stead, recite for them young Norval s speech. The 
" devil," glad of an opportunity to appear on the stage 
in any character, and paying little or no attention to 
what had been told him, stepped boldly before the au 
dience. The task, however, he found was not so easy, 
as the sound of what he had to say, and not the words, 
were buzzing in his brain. However, he essayed, and 
thus addressed the audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, 
the band has not come" a pause "the band not be 
ing come, Mr. Young will appear as a steed, and give 
you some novels, and account for himself, being on the 
Camphire Hills/ ;; This was received with shouts, 
and when Young appeared, he was hailed with deafen 
ing applause. Some looked for the fiery steed, others 
looked for the novels. Young commenced : " My name 
is Norval." Some fellow shouted out : " Damn your 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKKEST. 55 

name" "on the Grampian Hills, my father, etc." 
When he came to feeding the flock, another voice 
yelled out : " Never mind your sheep, give us the nov 
els." The cry became general: "The books! the 
books ! " Young, utterly astonished, rushed off the 
stage to find Porter and the devil in convulsions of 
laughter. The band, however, at that moment arrived, 
and the books were forgotten. 

Mr. Hackett was born in the city of New York, 
March 15th, 1800. He died on Long Island, Decem 
ber 27th, 1871, in the same place where, fifty-five 
years before, he had formed an Amateur Association, 
of which he was the leading spirit. 

Mr. Forrest s passion for the stage assumed a busi 
ness character ; he intended to follow it as a profession, 
and for that purpose he devoted all his youthful ener 
gies to that end. His was not the mere desire to be 
considered a Payne or a Betty, he had none of that 
boyish vanity which would sacrifice art at the shrine of 
folly. In all that he undertook, and did, he was serious 
and in earnest. He studied much, and never missed an 
opportunity of witnessing the advent of some popular 
star. The stage at that period was, we might say, in 
its infancy, at least as regarded its national character. 
An opposition was continually kept up against theatri 
cal amusements, being looked upon as so many branch 
es from the tree of evil, planted as it was said by one 
William Shakespeare and others, to corrupt the world. 
Under these circumstances our youthful aspirants for 
histrionic fame found it an ungracious undertaking. 
Indeed, to such an extent was this spirit of opposition 
carried that many of the young men connected with these 
amateur companies, lost their situations as clerks, and 



56 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

apprentices were actually punished. Jackson Gray, a 
boy in the store of Wayne & Biddle, hardware mer 
chants ; Jack Moore, bookbinder with Eobert Desilver, 
and several others, were compelled to adopt the stage 
as a profession, in consequence of the prejudice against 
actors. Men, who in after years fawned upon Mr. For 
rest, and flattered him, for they had made the discovery 
that a profession by which a man became rich, must 
needs be respectable had sneered at his youthful efforts 
when poor. 

" If there is a sin more deeply black than others, 
Distinguish d from the list of common crimes, 
A legion in itself, and doubly dear 
To the dark prince of hell, it is HYPOCRISY." 

There is not one period of our life to which we re 
fer with more real pleasure than that which was con 
nected with the old theatres. Places of amusement 
were few ; there was but one theatre where the legiti 
mate drama was produced, and that was the Chestnut 
Street Theatre, better known in after years as "Old 
Drury." 

After the destruction of this time honored Temple, 
which occurred on Sunday evening, April 2d, 1820, 
the Walnut Street Theatre then became a promi 
nent place of amusement, under the management of 
Messrs. Warren & Wood. As the Apollo Theatre 
was the scene of Mr. Forrest s early dramatic efforts, 
and up to a certain period in our stage history, was 
the fashionable resort for the aristocracy of our city, 
some account of it may not prove uninteresting to our 
readers. 

After the close of the theatre at South and Yernon 
Streets, in December, 1760, the company of Douglass 
remained away from the city for more than five years. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 57 

The theatre had in the meanwhile fallen into other 
hands, and Douglass, the manager, therefore took 
measures to erect a new house, much larger than the 
first one. It was built at the south-west corner of 
Cedar, or South Street, and a small street afterwards 
called Crab Street at other times Apollo Street and 
Charles Street between Fourth and Fifth. This 
company, which first entitled itself "a company of 
comedians from London," now assumed the title of 
" The American Company." Douglass still remained 
the manager. This continued to be the principal place 
of amusement up to the erection of the Chestnut 
Street Theatre (Old Drury) in 1793. 

The Apollo was not built entirely of wood, as was 
supposed ; the walls up to the second story were brick ; 
when it was destroyed by fire in 1821, the walls alone 
remained. When we first visited it, in 1815, it pre 
sented more the appearance of a good sized Pennsylva 
nia barn one large door in the centre, with two small 
windows on each side of it, were all the architectural 
features that presented themselves to our view ; the 
whole of the front was painted red. The view from 
the boxes was intercepted by large pillars, supporting 
the upper tier and roof. It was lighted by plain oil 
lamps without globes, a row of which were placed 
in front of the stage. The scenery was dingy cham 
ber scenes taken from descriptions of old castles, and 
altogether the whole presented a dark and sombre ap 
pearance. There were two old musicians, to whom we 
have already alluded, who fiddled away in the orchestra 
as if life and death depended upon their exertions, and 
the airs they played sounded as echoes from the tomb. 
Then the characters on the stage, with costumes com- 



58 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

bining almost every style of past ages, and with coun 
tenances of marked ferocity, making rapid strides, Tar- 
quin-like, toward some innocent victim on whom they 
were going to inflict some grievous wrong. Much of 
the scenery was painted by the unfortunate Major 
Andre, assisted by Captain Delancy, during the time 
the British had possession of Philadelphia. Mr. 
Charles Durang, speaking of this old theatre and of 
the gentlemen we have just named, said : 

" They added some very useful and beautiful scenes 
to the old stock. One scene, from the brush of Andre, 
deserves record. It was a landscape, presenting a dis 
tant champagne country and a winding rivulet ex 
tending from the front of the picture to the extreme 
distance. In the foreground and centre was a gen 
tle cascade, the water exquisitely executed, over 
shadowed by a group of majestic forest trees. The 
perspective was excellently preserved ; the foliage, 
verdure, and general coloring, artistically toned and 
glazed. The subject of this scene and its treatment 
was eminently indicative of the bland tone of the ill- 
fated major s mind ever running in a calm and har 
monious mood. 

" It was a drop scene, and hung about the middle of 
the third entrance, as called in stage directions. The 
name of Andre was inscribed in large black letters on 
the back of it thus put, no doubt, by his own hand 
on its completion, as is sometimes the custom with 
scenic artists. It was burnt, with the rest of the sce 
nery, at the destruction of the theatre in 1821. It 
would have been a precious relic at the present day for 
its very interesting associations. 

" Poor Andre little thought, while he was painting 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 59 

that scene, that in a few short years afterwards it 
would be used in a national play written on the subject 
of his capture and death. It was so used in the sum 
mer of 1807 on the 4th of July at the old South 
Street Theatre, as representing the pass on the banks 
of the Hudson River where he was taken by the three 
militiamen. It was the only suitable scene in the 
house which would answer for the locality without 
painting one expressly for it. The piece had no merit 
as a drama, and was only concocted for holiday occa 
sions. It was a sort of hybrid affair fulsome in 
dialogue and pantomime, full of Yankee notions and 
patriotic clap-trap ; but incessant laughter and ap 
plause of a crowded house, I well remember, rewarded 
the company s efforts." 

The stage-box on the east side, in after years, was 
fitted up for President Washington whenever he hon 
ored the theatre with his presence, at which time The 
Poor Soldier was played by desire. The drop cur 
tain to which so much interest was attached, was 
painted by Major Andre. We well remember, when 
the theatre was destroyed by fire, the extraordinary 
efforts made by firemen and others to save this curtain 
from the flames ; all attempts however proved unavail 
ing, and that, with many other relics of by-gone days, 
fell a victim to the all-devouring fiend. After the fire, 
it was discovered that the walls were not injured, and 
from its ruins a distillery phcenix-like arose. Dunlap, 
in speaking of the fire, says: "Once pouring out a 
mangled stream of good and evil, is now dispensing 
%)urely evil." 

Reminiscences, however, are but retrogressive shad 
ows which cast a gloom over the present, still, as we 



60 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

glance back o er the past, gleams of sunlight come up 
to cast a more cheerful ray on the future. Memory 
leads us 

" Back 

In mournful mockery o er the shining track 
Of our young life, and point out every ray 
Of hope, and peace we ve lost upon the way." 



CHAPTER IV. 

HIS FIRST APPEARANCE ON A REGULAR STAGE. FINDS 

A FRIEND IN COL. JOHN SWIFT. THE SPIRIT OF 

THE BOY FORESHADOWS THE GENIUS OF THE MAN. 

YOUNG NORVAL. THE AMATEUR MERGES INTO 

THE ACTOR. PREPARES FOR A WESTERN TOUR. 

THE DRAMA IN CINCINNATI. SOL. SMITH. THE 

DRAKE FAMILY. FORREST S JOURNEY. STAGE 
COACH ADVENTURE. MEETS THE HON. SIMON CAM 
ERON. HIS FIRST APPEARANCE IN CINCINNATI. 

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF STAGE LIFE. THE 

DREAM OF THE BOY REALIZED IN MANHOOD. 

HHHE same spirit that actuated young Forrest to 
- 1 - form amateur companies, extended to others 
equa-lly enthusiastic and ambitious. Among those 
who followed the example of this young pioneer were 
James E. Murdock, Harris G. Pearson, Edmon S. Con 
nor and John E. Scott, these were all Philadelphia 
apprentice boys, and their names are now enrolled 
among the best of those whose genius and talents 
gave to our stage "a local habitation and a name." 
The limited means of the family debarred him from 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 61 

taking those lessons in elocution, which are so essential 
to aid the aspirant for public honors. Nature, however, 
was an able teacher, and with her assistance he had 
conquered many difficulties, both in action and speech. 
Instruction generally is more readily gained through 
the eye than by means of any other sense ; and thus 
the exhibition of that which is refined and good in our 
nature has a tendency to lift us above all the mechani 
cal rules of mere art, and creates an enthusiasm and an 
ambition to appear in real life, like what we have wit 
nessed on the stage. It is action, blended with the 
emotions, which, by the aid of scenery, may be con 
sidered the best teacher for those who are anxious to 
become actors. Young as Forrest was at that time, 
he knew there were certain rules to be observed, of 
which he, as yet, knew but little. He had seen Cooper, 
whose action arose from the dignity of the character he 
represented. He saw before him not the mere elocu 
tionist, but the Coriolanus, Damon, and Virginius of 
history. Everything allied to mere art was no longer 
stage appendages. 

Brilliant talent great histrionic power are always 
to be found with those who studied the art histrionic 
aya science, and pursued it as one of the learned pro 
fessions. The light from such stars still linger on the 
stage to shine like "a good deed in a naughty world." 
The young actor who selects a great one for his model, 
should endeavor to imitate his mental as well as his 
physical qualities. The physical grandeur of the man 
his fine perception of the beauties of art his classi 
cal elegance of action and perfect marks of eloquence 
present to the student the best models for copy, to 
form the image he purposes to impersonate. Many 



62 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

young actors imagine themselves perfect, and pay little 
or no attention to the full latitude of the object they 
have in view, but form it according to the scanty model 
of their own capacity. If intellect is not made the me 
dium through which true art is to be carried out on the 
stage, the aspirant for histrionic fame will never become 
a master. 

Mr. Forrest had Cooper for his classic model, who 
was the Demosthenes of the drama, and so well did he 
study in that school that he in time became its Talma. 
Forrest did not think " himself perfect ; " he knew there 
were certain rules, correct pronunciation, action, ele 
gance and grace to be learned and attained, before he 
could face an intelligent audience. One year before his 
first appearance on a regular stage, he placed himself 
under the tuition of MR. DANIEL MAGINNIS, teacher 
of elocution, No. 83 Locust Street. Nature and study 
did the rest. 

We have said that Colonel John Swift took great 
interest in young Forrest, and wishing to advance him 
in the profession he was determined to adopt, waited on 
William B. Wood, the acting manager of the Walnut 
Street Theatre, and stated the object of his visit, which 
was to secure a night for the first appearance of his 
young proteg/. The request was promptly refused by 
Mr. Wood, who remarked : " We have been so unfortu 
nate in the numerous l first appearances of late that 
the young aspirant could hope for little encouragement 
of his wishes ; the drooping state of the drama fur 
nishes another and stronger reason for our course." 
The usual arguments were used with some success, 
for the managers finally consented to give the youth 
ful Koscius one night. Mr. Wood, speaking of Mr. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. G3 

Forrest, says : " Master Edwin Forrest was sixteen 
years of age, he was a well-grown young man, with 
a noble figure, unusually developed for his age, his fea 
tures powerfully expressive, and of a determination of 
purpose which discouraged all further objections." As 
this was the most important event in the life of young 
Forrest, his first appearance on a regular stage, sup 
ported by eminent artists, the cast of the play is 
equally important in connection with the event. Mr. 
Wood judged the age of Mr. Forrest from his appear 
ance ; at that time he was only fourteen years of age. 

WALNUT STREET THEATRE. 

Monday evening-, November 27, 1820. 
Will be presented the tragedy (in 5 acts) called 

DOUGLAS; OR THE NOBLE SHEPHERD. 
Written by Mr. Home. 

YOUNG NoRVAL By a Young Gentleman of this city. 

LORD RANDOLPH MR. WIIEATLEY. 

GLENALVON MR. W. B. WOOD. 

OLD NORVAL MR. WARREN. 

NORVAL S SERVANT MR. MARTIN. 

FIRST OFFICER MR. SCRIVENER 

SECOND OFFICER MR. CARTER. 

THIRD OFFICER MR. PARKER. 

LADY RANDOLPH MRS. WILLIAMS. 

ANNA MRS. JEFFERSON. 

Instead of being a one opening night," the success 
of the "Young Koscius" was so apparent that a re 
petition of the play was asked for, which soon followed, 
and with increased approbation. Soon after he added 
to his reputation by a spirited effort as Frederick, in 
Lover s Vows, and Octavian, in the Mountaineers. 
On the occasion of his benefit he recited Goldsmith s 
celebrated Epilogue in the character of a harlequin, 
and concluded by turning a somersault through a 
balloon. 

Perhaps a better school, or one more purely legiti- 



64 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

mate, could not have been selected at the period than 
this, for the advent of a debutant, nor has there been 
a company since, which could compete with the old 
Chestnut Street stock. Forrest enacted Young Norval, 
with a cast of characters which could not have been 
equalled in the country then, nor has it been since. Its 
members were of the old English school, and could 
trace their tutors from the days of Garrick. The pro 
fession with them was an art, and it was looked up to 
as one of the highest, and respected accordingly. Mr. 
Wood s Glenalvon we shall never cease to remember, 
and Warren s Old Norval was one of the gems of the 
day. Thus, when Forrest stepped on the stage and re 
hearsed his part, the strict observance of propriety, the 
marked deference paid to the lady actresses, and all the 
etiquette of the green-room, laid the foundation of 
that marked reverence for the beauties of the drama, 
which he has strictly paid at its altar since. 

It was in such a school Forrest received his first 
lesson in the art histrionic. The strict observance of 
all the rules that compose propriety, the etiquette ob 
served in the green-room, the marked deference paid 
to the lady actresses all he said, "made him feel as 
if he stood in the presence of kings and princes." 
Such indeed they were as the representatives of those of 
the "mimic world." Thus, at an age of fourteen, he 
found himself surrounded with such men as Wood, 
Warren, Francis, Jefferson, Burke, Darley, Wilson, 
Green, Wheatley, Hathwell ; and ladies, whose names 
are a part of our stage history, Mesdames Wood, 
Francis, Williams, Darley, Eatwistle, Jefferson, Burke, 
etc. He went forth from this school with impressions 
of the most pleasing character impressions that gave 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. (J5 

him a high estimate of the drama and a fixed deter 
mination to make the stage the stepping-stone to fame. 
There were times, however, when this resolve wavered, 
it was when he hesitated between the ring of a circus 
and the theatre. Saw dust, and the excitement of the 
equestrian pageantry had their charms ; but his good 
genius came to the rescue and saved him from being 
the Tatnell * of the first and made him the Garrick 
of the latter. 

After consultation with his friends and the mana 
gers, it was resolved that Master Edwin Forrest should 
abandon the young Eoscius plan, and take a wider 
range through the western country ; for that purpose 
John Swift furnished him with funds, and "he left 
us, v said Mr. Wood, " with favorable auguries for the 
future/ 

Cincinnati at that time was the only city where the 
drama had taken root, from whence a Forest was to 
grow ! As this was the second move the young Koscius 
made on the drama s board, and from which important 
point in his life we may date his future movements to 
the highest honor the stage confers on its votaries, 
some account of the state of the drama in the West at 
that time may not prove uninteresting. 

As early as 1805, some itinerants made their ap 
pearance in Cincinnati, and gave readings and recita 
tions, and during several succeeding years, strolling 
companies, without "name or fame," stopped on their 
way to the " dark and bloody ground," and gave ex- 

* Samuel Tatnell, a celebrated equestrian, who created quite 
an excitement in Philadelphia, at the Olympic Theatre, in 1822, by 
his fearless riding. He was the first, we believe, who rode a 
" fiery steed " without saddle or bridle, in the country, or at least 
the first of any repute. 
4 



66 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

hibitions, more for the purpose of defraying expenses 
than anything else. In 1815, a society of young men, 
amateurs, erected a wooden edifice, for the dramatic 
muse ; no objection seems to have been made against 
it, by the religious, until a strolling company came, 
who were permitted to play in it. Then commenced 
the " tug of war," the "clergy were in arms and eager 
for the fray," as they always are when the Theatre is 
the shaft for their venomed darts ; it was urged by 
them that it encouraged a set of wandering vagabonds, 
and engrossed the time of the people, that it was an 
idle and demoralizing profession, etc. They were 
strongly supported by the bigoted the company 
vanished, and even the amateurs had to yield to the 
overwhelming arguments of the clergy, and the temple 
of the muses, the queen of the arts and sciences, the 
governess of music, and the concentration of rays 
from the brightest luminaries in the hemisphere of 
learning was closed. 

Among those who made what is here termed theat 
rical tours in the far West, was Mr. Wm. Turner. He 
can claim rank with the earliest pioneers in the drama s 
cause beyond the Blue Kidge. As early as 1810-11 
he performed in various towns of the West, and was a 
regular visitor at that early period, to many places 
where the music of the Thespian band had never been 
heard. In 1815, a Thespian company had a theatre 
in Cincinnati, from whom Mr. Turner rented it for 
twelve nights, and performed The Stranger, Othello, 
School for Scandal, Man and Wife, The Eivals, Kichard 
III., Cure for the Heart Ache, Lover s Vows, Hamlet, 
Wheel of Fortune, Alexander the Great, Romeo and 
Juliet, etc. The reader will perceive that the legiti- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 57 

mate was decidedly the object of the manager. His 
company at that period consisted of Mr. Collins, Mr. 
Caulfield (who died in April, 1815), Morgan, Jefferson, 
Anderson, Laidly, Bob Laidly, Cargel, Lucas, Turner, 
Beale, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Barrett, and Mrs. Milner. 
This campaign commenced April 3d, 1815. 

Mr. Drake and family emigrated to the West in 
1815, upon an invitation from Mr. Luke Usher, who had 
some time previously established theatres in Frankfort 
and Lexington. The Louisville Theatre, which has 
since been enlarged to its present size, was built, and 
in a short time Mr. Drake had the control of all the 
theatres in Kentucky. 

The following persons composed what may properly 
be termed the Pioneer Company of the West ; Messrs. 
Drake, Blisset, Lewis, Ludlow, S. Drake, Jr., Alexan 
der Drake, Jas. Drake, Mrs. Lewis, Miss Denny, and 
Miss Julia Drake. 

In 1819, a small company under the management 
of Mr. Blanchard, visited Cincinnati, and performed a 
few nights in Mr. Dawson s school-room, in Water 
Street. 

The foundation of the Columbia Street Theatre was 
laid this year, and the company of Messrs. Collins & 
Jones performed for a short season in the second story 
of Burrows & Turner s store, corner of Columbia and 
Walnut Streets. Next year, 1820, the theatre opened 
with Wives as They Were, with the following persons 
in the cast. Sir Wm. Dorrillon, Mr. Collins, Bronzely, 
Mr. Jones, Lord Priorry, Mr. Lucas, Miss Dorrillon, and 
Mrs. Groshon. Collins was an excellent actor, so was 
Jones. Mrs. Groshon was deservedly a great favorite ; 
she was an excellent Lady Macbeth. James M. Scott, 



68 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

since known as "Long Tom Coffin," was a leading 
member of the company. 

A company consisting of Messrs. A. Drake, S. 
Drake, Jr., Palmer, Fisher, Douglass, Jones, Sol. Smith 
and Mesdames Morgan, Fisher, and three or four young 
Fishers , followed. With a company so limited in 
number, it will be supposed the selection of pieces must 
have been extremely circumscribed, but this does not 
appear to have been the case, for we find they perform 
ed such pieces as Pizarro, The Poor Gentleman, 
and other equally full plays. The following was the 
cast for 

PIZARRO. 
.. .... .:: ............................ M E .S.D KAKE . 



HIGH PRIEST ............................. MR. SOL. SMITH! 

ALMAGRO ................................. MR. SOL. SMITH ! ! 

BLIND MAN .............................. MR. SOL. SMITH ! 1 ! 

SENTINEL .................................. MR. SOL. SMITH ! ! ! ! 

VAL VERDE ................................ MR. SOL. SMITH ! ! ! ! ! 

GUARD ................................... MR. SOL. SMITH !!!!!! 

THE WHOLE OP THE SPANISH ARMY ....... MR. SOL. SMITH !!!!!!! 

All these seven characters were represented by Mr. 
Sol. Smith. 

We find the name of Sol. Smith among those who 
formed the company of 1821, acting as prompter. The 
company consisted of Messrs. Collins, Jones, Cargill, 
Hays, Henderson, Miss Denny, Mrs. Groshon, Mrs. 
Jones, Mrs. Hanna, and Miss Seymour, afterwards Mrs. 
Cargill. Mr. Cooper performed an engagement during 
the season. On the first night of his engagement, the 
following whimsical incident occurred. Othello was 
the play : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. G9 

"The fame of the great tragedian had drawn a 
crowded audience, composed of every description of 
persons, and among the rest a country lass of sixteen, 
whom (not knowing her real name) we will call Peggy. 
Peggy had never before seen the inside of a playhouse. 
She entered at the time Othello was making his defence 
before the duke and senators. The audience were un 
usually attentive to the play, and Peggy was permit 
ted to walk in the lobby until she arrived at the door of 
the stage-box, when a gentleman handed her in, with 
out withdrawing his eyes from the celebrated performer, 
and her beau, a country boy, was obliged to remain in 
the lobby. Miss Peggy stared about for a moment, as 
if doubting whether she was in her proper place, till 
casting her eyes on the stage, she observed several 
chairs unoccupied. It is probable this circumstance 
alone would not have induced her to take the step she 
did, but she observed the people on the stage appeared 
more at their ease than those among whom she was 
standing, and withal much more sociable, and as fate 
would have it, just at that moment, Othello, looking 
nearly towards the place where she was situated, ex 
claimed : 

Here comes the lady. 

"The senators half rose, in expectation of seeing 
the gentle Desdemona/ when lo ! the maiden from the 
country stepped from the box plump on the stage, and 
advanced towards the expecting Moor. It is impossible 
to give any idea of the confusion that followed ; the 
audience clapped and cheered the duke and senators 
forgot their dignity the girl was ready to sink with 
consternation even Cooper himself could not help 



70 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

joining in the general mirth. The uproar lasted for 
several minutes, until the gentleman who had handed 
her into the box, helped the blushing girl out of her 
unpleasant situation. It was agreed by all present that 
a lady never made her debut on any stage with more 
eclat than Miss Peggy." 

Cincinnati at that period was the Athens of the 
drama beyond the Blue Ridge, but unlike Athens of 
old, she gave her Thespians something better than a 
wagon for their exhibition. 

The first newspaper printed north of the Ohio River, 
and the third west of the mountains, was issued at this 
place, November 9th, 1793, by William Maxwell ; its 
name was the Sentinel of the Northwestern Territory, 
its motto "open to all parties." In 1811 the first 
public school was erected ; and in 1814 we find a semi 
nary was instituted, under the name of the Cincinnati 
Lancastrian Seminary. In this year the public library, 
which, for the space of five years, had been struggling 
with " causes and effects," for an existence, commenced 
its infantile operations, with eight hundred volumes, 
the usual number of a private library. To trace the 
gradual rise of the city, in all the various departments 
of literature, commerce, etc., would be one of much 
interest, and productive of much pleasure. In 1831 we 
find established a wholesome system of education ; the 
Legislature of 1825 having passed a law, laying the 
foundation of a system of free schools throughout the 
State; and in addition to which a special act having 
been passed, making more ample provision in Cincin 
nati. The city authorities in 1831 commenced opera 
tions under this law, and schools have been established 
in the different districts, sufficient to accommodate all 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 71 

the children of a proper age, and to continue the year 
round. These schools are free, and open to all classes, 
without distinction, and are supported by a tax. 

In 1815 the population of Cincinnati was about 
thirty thousand. The increase of this, next to the 
largest city in the West, will show an account for the 
extraordinary increase, and the rapid advancement of 
the arts and sciences through such a vast section of our 
country, which was a half century ago almost a wilder 
ness. Cincinnati, in 1815, was but a young city, what 
is she now in 1873 ? Possessing a population of nearly 
220,000 ! ? 

Such was the state of the drama in the West, when 
Edwin Forrest started from Philadelphia, in the year 
1822, to join a theatrical company in Cincinnati. 

" When young with sanguine cheer and streamers gay 
We cut our cable launch into the world, 
And fondly dream each wind and star our friend." 

On his way he met with a few obstacles, which his 
youth naturally incurred, these however he soon over 
come. On the route to Pittsburg, at one of the stop 
ping places two gentlemen got on the stage, they were 
evidently of the better class, in whose conversation 
Forrest became much interested, and listened with 
much attention. One of the gentlemen was called by the 
other, General. After listening some time, chance gave 
him an opportunity of putting in a word, which he did, 
and to some purpose, for his two travelling companions 
became in their turn interested. Boy-like, Forrest told 
his simple story of how he made his first appearance on 
the stage, and his ambition to become a great actor. 
" And so," said the younger of the two, "you are Mas 
ter Forrest ? I am glad to meet you, young sir, as I 



72 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

have heard you surpassed Master Payne in Young 
Norval. But you have undertaken a great task, and 
at your age there are so many temptations in your 
path that it will require the strength of manhood to 
resist." 

" But I will resist, sir, and if I live I will carve for 
myself a name." 

" That you will if you maintain the character you 
have already, and study with an eye to that object/ 
observed the elder traveller. 

Mr. Forrest, in relating this little incident to us, 
laughed heartily while doing so, "for," says he, "al 
though but sixteen, I really thought myself a second 
Cooper, and vain enough to think I was capable of hold 
ing conversation and maintaining an argument with 
any one." One of these gentleman the younger of 
the two alluded to was Simon Cameron, and when 
Mr. Forrest met him in after years, the fulfilment of 
his ambitious youthful aspirations was the subject of a 
very pleasing conversation. 

In the fall of 1822, Messrs. Collins and Jones 
opened the Cincinnati Theatre, the company consist 
ing of Messrs. Collins, Jones, Scott, Edwin Forrest, 
Davis, Eberle, Henderson, Groshon, Mrs. Pelby, Mrs. 
Kiddle, Miss Kiddle, Miss Henton, and Miss Eliza 
Kiddle. The opening play was the Soldier s Daugh 
ter. Young Malfort by Edwin Forrest. 

During the season Mr. Pelby acted as a star, 
Forrest playing Titus to his Brutus, and Julius to Vir- 
ginius. It will be perceived that he made a nattering 
beginning, and everything looked bright before him. 
With varied success the company played for a short 
season, and then proceeded to Louisville. Some diffi- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 73 

culty arising between the managers and a portion of 
the company, induced a few of the latter to return to 
Cincinnati and open the Globe Theatre on Maine street. 
At this house Forrest played Othello and other charac 
ters with much success " but rather imperfect/ says 
an old friend, "with scarcely a knoivledge of the text." 
The success lie rather in his appearance and voice. 
Mr. Forrest played Richard III. for his benefit. The 
same critic said, after seeing his Richard, "that he 
would in time become a great actor." In conversation 
with Mr. Forrest, in relation to these early scenes of 
his life, he said : " The salary I got was so small that 
I was unable to appear on the street in a decent dress 
boots, particularly, gave me the most trouble, for I 
was compelled to wear my stage boots from the board 
ing house to the theatre, and from the theatre to the 
boarding house. On the opposite side of the river 
there was a large forest, a gloomy place enough, huge 
oaks, and other tall trees, with a sprinkling of under 
wood, rendering it a fitting place for me to rehearse my 
part and try my voice. On a Sunday morning early I 
would cross the river and seek out the loneliest part of 
the wood for my purpose. My stage boots for I had 
no others was the only part of my costume that 
smacked of the shop, my poverty, not my will, rendered 
this a necessity. Here I would spend the day, reading, 
spouting and fighting a tree as if it were Richmond 
and I the Richard. 

" I said to Sol. Smith one day that if I ever became 
a rich man I would purchase that dear old wood this 
was said at a time when I really had not a dollar in 
the world." This wood adjoins the town of Covington, 
Ky., situated on the Ohio River, opposite Cincinnati, 



74 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

just below the mouth of the Licking Kiver, which sep 
arates it from the city of Newport. As Mr. Forrest 
purchased this woodland in after years, the circum 
stances which led to his becoming its owner, and which 
still belongs to his estate, were as follows : When 
playing a star engagement in Cincinnati years after 
wards, Sol. Smith said to him one day, "Forrest, do 
you remember saying that if ever you became a rich 
man you would purchase the woods in Covington, where 
you went in your poverty to avoid society and rehearse 
your part ? " 

" Yes, I remember." 

" Well, look at that/ 7 handing Forrest a bill an 
nouncing the sale of valuable property in Covington ; 
the "wood scene" in his youthful memory was partic 
ularly described. 

" When is the sale to take place ? " 

" Why to-day ; look at the bill." 

" Yes, there it is, to begin at ten o clock precisely ; 
it is now eight. Come, let us be off ; it may probably 
go beyond my figure, however." 

The two started, the sale commenced, and it was 
knocked down to Edwin Forrest, the eminent trage 
dian. 



CHAPTEK V. 

EAKLY STRUGGLES. TRAGEDY, COMEDY, OR CIRCUS ? 
PLAYS A NEGRO DANDY. ENGAGES WITH JAMES H. 
CALDWELL, N. O., FOR THE COMING SEASON. SUF 
FERINGS IN THE MEAN TIME. MAKES A PROVINCIAL 

TOUR. ITS RESULTS. THE RIDDLE FAMILY. 

THROWS UP HIS ENGAGEMENT WITH CALDWELL. 

JOINS A CIRCUS COMPANY. SOL. SMITH INDIGNANT. 

A PLEASING EPISODE. GOES TO NEW ORLEANS. 

HIS RESOLVE AFTER SEEING CONWAY, THE GREAT 
TRAGEDIAN. JANE PLACIDE. FORREST S RETURN 
TO HIS NATIVE CITY. TRIUMPHANT SUCCESS ! 

A BOUT this period James H. Caldwell was consid- 
~*"^- ered the great Napoleon of the Southern stage. 
He had erected theatres in the principal cities, more 
particularly in the South, and New Orleans could boast 
of having the best temple for the "histrionic muse," 
as Caldwell called it, and the best company, as he also 
said, " in the country." 

At the suggestion of a friend (Sol. Smith) Mr. For 
rest wrote to Caldwell, as also did Smith; the result 
was that at the commencement of the ensuing season 
he was regularly enrolled in that gentleman s company 
at the enormous salary of eighteen dollars per week ! 
In the mean time the Cincinnati company struggled 
on, laboring in its vocation under difficulties. Various 
attempts were made to keep up with the times, which, 

(75) 



76 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

at that period, were unusually bad. A new piece writ 
ten by Mr. Smith was brought out at the Globe, and 
was quite a success. It was called Modern Fashions. 
Forrest and Long Tom Coffin Scott (so called in after 
years) played a pair of dandies. This gave rise to 
another production, entitled The Tailor in Distress. 
In this piece Forrest performed the part of a negro. 
Forrest had a decided inclination for comedy ; indeed, 
for a time he actually hesitated between tragedy and 
comedy, as he did seriously on one occasion between 
sawdust and the stage. Some of our readers may ques 
tion this, but as we knoiv them to be facts, the record 
must be received as a truthful version of his early 
struggles in the mimic world. 

As some few months would elapse before he com 
menced with Caldwell, the company with which he was 
engaged had to struggle on the best way they could to 
meet their expenses. This was a hard task, inasmuch 
as the business in Cincinnati was extremely dull, and 
little or no encouragement was given to the players. 
The Globe was therefore given up, and the members of 
the company scattered in every direction. Forrest and 
Davis, with the Kiddle family, made an excursion into 
the country and performed at Dayton. They then 
went to other small towns, and performed with but 
little success. Indeed, they suffered many privations. 

Finding their trip to be one entailing a loss, 
rather than a profit, they determined to return to Cin 
cinnati. Forrest pawned his stage wardrobe for the 
purpose of raising money to send the ladies of the com 
pany to Newport. The men in the mean time started 
from Lebanon, on foot, for the same place, a distance of 
twenty miles. On their way they had to swim a small 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 77 

stream, having no money to pay the ferryman. Too 
independent to beg, they lived on roasted corn, "as 
hard," Forrest said, " as Pharaoh s heart." What con 
nection there is between roasted corn and the heart of 
Pharaoh is a question we very much doubt if Mr. For 
rest himself could have answered. This journey, apart 
from the actual want of food, was a very pleasant one, 
and Mr. Forrest frequently referred to it as one of the 
most interesting excursions he ever took ! 

When they arrived at Newport they played Doug 
las, and Miss in Her Teens, to a house of seven 
dollars! They thought it nearly time then to turn 
their attention to some other business. Some how or 
other they contrived to get through the summer, and 
in the fall they joined Collins and Jones, at Lexington, 
Ky. In the mean time Sol. Smith was getting up a 
company, and Forrest made application for a situation, 
but Smith refused, on the ground that Forrest was 
already under a previous engagement with C aid well, 
and he considered the future prospects of his young 
friend depended much if not altogether upon his adhe 
ring to his first contract with the great Southern man 
ager. Forrest, however, insisted upon staying with Sol. 
Smith, observing : " I would rather remain with you 
for ten dollars per week than engage with a stranger 
for eighteen." 

Forrest had still another reason for not wishing to 
fulfil his engagement with Caldwell. There are asso 
ciations formed in youth which, ere manhood erases 
them from memory, are stronger than all the argu 
ments of the more advanced or experienced. The Kid 
dle family were talented, and one of them was young 
and beautiful. There is a certain romance connected 



78 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

with the profession of an actor which throws around him 
a charm pleasing to the eye of youth and beauty ; and 
thus when as one family they had travelled and suffered 
together, it did indeed seem hard to separate ; and thus 
it was Forrest determined to break his engagement with 
Caldwell, and once more appealed to Sol. Smith, but in 
vain. Provoked at his old friend s opposition, he went 
immediately to the manager of a circus company, and 
made an engagement with him as a tumbler and a 
rider for the term of twelve months. As soon as Smith 
heard this most extraordinary move on the part of 
Forrest, he started in pursuit of him, and found him 
in the ring surrounded by riders, acrobats, vaulters, 
grooms, and "numerous auxiliaries/ Smith had the 
satisfaction of seeing him throw several flip-flaps, and 
then running towards the astonished spectator, he 
shouted out : " What do you think of that, eh ? " 

Sol. Smith admitted to the writer of this that if 
he had remained with the circus managers he would 
have become one of the most daring riders and vaulters 
that ever appeared in the ring. After much difficulty, 
in which he was assisted by others, Forrest was induced 
to give up this engagement and fulfil the one made 
with Caldwell. This, as the reader will readily perceive, 
was the most momentous period of the young actor s 
life. It must also be remembered, as an excuse for his 
conduct, that he was then only eighteen years of age. 

Even after his engagement with Caldwell, this de 
sire for the " ring " did not die out. It still had its 
attractions, and the youthful athlete often imagined 
that he was better adapted to the performances of a 
circus than he was to the more intellectual acquirements 
of the stage. The moment, however, he gave up the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 79 

idea of the former, he turned his whole attention to the 
latter, and the youth who turned flip-flaps in the ring 
of a circus became in time the finished Shakesperian 
scholar of the age, and the only man we ever heard 
read Hamlet up to the standard as prescribed by the 
author. There may be a difference of opinion in regard 
to this assertion of ours, but the best critics in this 
and other countries have invariably viewed the charac 
ter of Hamlet as one laboring under a mental disease, 
and as such Shakespeare has drawn him; and if the 
actor dates the insanity of the prince from his inter 
view with the Ghost, and where he puts "an antic dis 
position on," he gives but an imperfect impersonation, 
and makes him " a thing of shreds and patches." We 
shall allude to this subject hereafter. 

We have said that the feats in the ring of a circus 
in Cincinnati did not put an end to Forrest s desire of 
becoming a vaulter and a rider. On one occasion, for 
a wager, however, in another city, he appeared in the 
ring in a " still vaulting " act, being for the benefit of 
" Bill Gates," a well-known attach^ of the circus. For 
rest had the privilege in this wager to disguise him 
self, so as not to be recognized, if possible, by his 
theatrical friends. His dress consisted of an enormous 
pair of Turkish trowsers, breast-plate and fly ; his feet 
were adorned with a pair of sheepskin pumps, the kind 
worn by a numerous train of auxiliaries. But few 
knew him, however. On another occasion he tendered 
his services for the benefit of "Charley Young," on 
which eventful night, the last of his acrobatic feats, he 
made a flying leap through a barrel of red fire, singe 
ing his hair and eyebrows terribly. To the last mo 
ment of Mr. Forrest s life, however, he still exercised 



80 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

with dumb-bells, dead weights, Indian clubs, etc., and 
other feats of physical exercise, too much, we frequent 
ly thought for his advanced years. Others thought so, 
too, but the spirit of the boy of eighteen only died out 
with the man of sixty-six. 

The South at that period was the El Dorado to 
actors. Caldwell s reputation as a manager his high- 
toned idea of the drama, his desire to give it that at 
tention which would command the respect and admira 
tion of playgoers was well known. It was under 
such a manager and in such a theatre Mr. Forrest first 
began to appreciate the value of true art. Pelby, Con- 
way, Cooper, Booth and others, had shed the light of 
their genius on the mimic stage, and he determined to 
catch some of its rays to illuminate his own pathway. 
With this resolve he entered the Crescent City, and 
with a like determination he stepped on the stage of 
the best regulated theatre in the country. 

To the credit of Mr. Forrest be it said here, that 
the first use he made of his earnings was to provide for 
his mother and sisters. At first his remittances were 
small. The following incident connected with this no 
ble trait in his character, we introduce here as an epi 
sode. Keturning to New York, after a successful en 
gagement in the South and West, he met a friend in 
the lobby of the Bowery Theatre, upon whom he sud 
denly opened with the following startling declaration, 
uttered in a triumphal tone: " Thank Heaven, I am 
not worth a ducat." His friend eagerly inquired the 
meaning of an assertion so singular and so ambiguous ; 
for he knew Mr. Forrest had netted a large amount of 
money by his preceding engagements. Said Mr. For 
rest : "My mother and sisters were poor, and I Lave 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. gl 

just purchased for them a house in Philadelphia ; and 
all the balance of my funds, I have invested there, for 
their support. Thank Heaven, I am not worth a 
ducat." And well might the noble, aspiring, and 
triumphant adventurer, whose honorable ambition had 
been always rewarded as it merited, "thank heaven" 
that he had already been enabled to obtain the means 
of benefaction ; and that he possessed the exalted 
magnanimity to apply them in a way so pleasing and 
grateful to the noblest instincts of humanity. In 
speaking of this incident he said to us : " After the 
Completion of the purchase, and placing the deed in 
my mother s hand, I had actually but one dollar left/" 
On that small capital, with a large amount of genius, 
he started afresh, and once more achieved a fortune 
and added fresh laurels to his brow. 

Forrest made his first appearance in New Orleans 
on Wednesday evening, February 4th, 1823, as Jaffier, 
being then only seventeen years of age. On the first 
of January, 1824, Caldwell opened his new theatre on 
Camp Street, with Town and Country, Forrest play 
ing Captain Grlenroy. During the season Forrest sus 
tained stars, playing Iciliusr to Mr. Pelby s Brutus. 
When we take into consideration the fact of his being 
but a boy, as regards age, this extraordinary precocious 
talent far surpasses anything of a similar kind on rec 
ord. If it were not that we have the most positive 
evidence of his being born on the 9th of March, 1806, 
we should be induced to rely on William B. Wood s 
account of his first interview with Master Forrest, and 
what he said at the time : 

" Forrest," says he, "was at this time a well grown 
young man, with a noble figure, unusually developed 
5 



82 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

for his age, being sixteen, his features powerfully ex 
pressive, etc." It does seem reasonable to those who 
consider that when he enacted Norval at the Walnut 
Street Theatre, in 1820, he was but fourteen years of 
age, that Mr. Wood s theory might be sustained of his 
being sixteen ; this would make his age when he joined 
Caldwell in New Orleans, in 1824, exactly twenty, an 
age that would in some measure justify a manager in 
giving him important parts to play. A lad of seven 
teen enacting lago to the Othello of a star, and Eich- 
mond to his Richard, does indeed seem remarkable, and 
yet it is so. At the time we knew Mr. Forrest as the 
boy actor, we considered ourselves a man our being 
Mr. Forrest s senior by four years made the fact very 
plain to us ! 

We have something still more remarkable to record 
in connection with Mr. Forrest s New Orleans engage 
ment, and that is, he enacted King Lear for his benefit, 
being then in the nineteenth year of his age. Perhaps 
history does not furnish another instance like it. Lear, 
a character requiring all the elements that make 
up the actor, both mentally and physically, is one 
that few undertake, more particularly as no one had 
attempted the part since George Frederick Cooke s 
transcendent genius invested it with so much Shakes- 
perian beauty and power. Forrest s attempt was sim 
ply praiseworthy, but from that moment, as he said, 
"I determined to make Lear my great character 
that is, if I ever reach a point to command success." 

For the first time in his life, Mr. Forrest had here an 
opportunity of witnessing William A. Conway, whom 
Caldwell had engaged for a short engagement. This 
was Mr. Con way s first appearance in New Orleans. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 83 

His reputation had been the " evant courier " to create 
quite an excitement, and Mr. C aid well was compelled 
to sell the tickets at auction to the highest bidder. He 
opened in Othello on Wednesday, March 2nd, 1825. 
Mr. Conway s impersonation of the Moor astounded the 
young student ; he saw him there on the stage, not as 
he had seen him, not as he imagined him to be from 
mere reading, but as an untamed animal grand, majes 
tic, fearful, with Afric s blood flowing in his veins. 
For the first time Mr. Forrest saw Othello s picture 
truthfully and fearfully drawn. A character drawn 
with passions so strong ill-regulated education, and 
one whose peculiar notions, mental and physical organ 
ization, so learnedly portrayed by the actor, that For 
rest gazed in astonishment and felt as if the part of 
Othello was far beyond his reach. And yet it had been 
one of his chief studies, but the picture, as drawn by 
Conway, seemed to him like Martin s great painting 
(copies of which were then out) of " Satan in Council" 
the chief figure towering in fiendish grandeur above 
all the rest. Shakespeare has drawn a character in 
the person of Othello that has no parallel in the whole 
range of the drama. The acting of Conway aroused 
Forrest from the dreams of the boy to the realities of 
life in man. Othello was ever before his eyes in the 
person of Conway, and he muttered to himself, u Til 
master it yet ! " 

Let us introduce an episode here, as it had a bear 
ing on the future prospects of Forrest : 

JANE PLACIDE. 

This lady was a member of Caldwell s company at 
that time, and was the innocent cause of a serious quar- 



84 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

rel between Forrest and Caldwell; a slight sketch of 
her life may not be out of place. Forrest, impulsive, 
brave, and sensitive to an insult of any kind, in the 
excitement of the moment challenged his manager, who 
wisely, perhaps, refused it. They then separated ; 
Forrest left for the North, and it is probable this, an 
unpleasant incident, was & momentous period in his 
life, as it brought him immediately in connection with 
the celebrated Edmund Kean, who was playing an 
engagement in New York about that period. 

Jane Placide was born in Charleston, S. C., 1804. 
She was the daughter of Alexander Placide, well known 
in the South as a manager. He died in 1812. At an 
early age she was introduced on the stage as a danseuse. 
She made her first appearance on the stage as an ac 
tress, in Norfolk, Va., in 1820, as Violante, in the 
Honeymoon. Made her first appearance in New Or 
leans, January 4th, 1823, exactly one month before Mr. 
Forrest s appearance in that city. When we first saw 
Miss Placide she was still a member of Mr. CaldwelFs 
company this was in 1833-34. She was not only a 
very handsome woman, but one of the most finished 
actresses in the South. In comedy or tragedy she was 
alike good, and was the pride of the " mimic world " in 
that city, as she was acknowledged an artiste in the 
cities of the North. In 1827 she played a star engage 
ment at the Chatham Street Theatre, New York. She 
soon attained the position she aimed at, and was ac 
knowledged, as we have stated, in the South, as the 
best native tragedienne ever seen there. She died in 
New Orleans in the height of her popularity, on May 
16th, 1835. In the American burying ground, New 
Orleans, there is a marble slab, on which we read the 
following : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOIiREST. 



TO THE MEMORY OF JANE PLACIDE. 

" There s not an hour 

Of day, or dreamy night but I am with thee ; 
There s not a wind but whispers o er thy name, 
And not a flower that sleeps beneath the moon 
But in its hues of fragrance tells a tale 
Of thee." 



" I ll master it yet," were the words uttered by 
Forrest as lie went over the wonderful points of Shake 
speare s great tragedy of Othello ; with this resolve 
and the highest aspirations that ever agitated the 
mind of youth, he wended his way to Albany, N. Y. 
He had better inducements to go hither, than those 
of larger cities could hold out. Charles Gilfert was 
the manager of the Broadway and Albany theatres, and 
it was with him Forrest engaged to perform in these 
cities. Mr. Gilfert, in making his arrangements with 
Forrest for a limited period, was very careful to have 
his salary fixed at a low figure salaries at that period 
were not quite as high as they are now. By this time 
Forrest had achieved a certain degree of fame, and 
when the manager suggested the renewal of his engage 
ment, he said, "I presume the salary will be the same." 
Forrest looked him full in the face, saying, " My terms 
sir, are one hundred dollars per week/ 

The manager laughed the actor frowned and yet 
on the 12th of January, 1827, he received from the 
manager of the Walnut Street Theatre two hundred 
dollars per night ! A rapid rise in his theatrical career. 
Before he could command such a price, however, he had 
to pass through two or three years of much practice 
and study. Edmund Kean, one of the most extraordi 
nary men of the day, said of Mr. Forrest, "That he 



86 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

was destined to a high station in the theatrical profes 
sion." He played lago to Kean s Othello, and Rich- 
mond to his Richard III. 

Five years had elapsed since he left the place of his 
birth the home of his boyhood the scene of his early 
dramatic attempts. He came back full of hope and 
confidence, and with no intention, as it was near the 
close of the season, to play. It so happened, however, 
that Charles S. Porter s benefit was about to take place 
that he consented to play for him. The last time 
these two acted together, it will be recollected, was on 
the boards of the old South Street Theatre the one 
enacted a female part, the other his lover. They now 
appeared on the boards of " Old Drury," two finished 
actors, in the tragedy of Venice Preserved. Mr. For 
rest enacted the part of Jafner, Mr. Porter, Pierre. 
This was on the 16th of May, 1826. The result was a 
decided success. As we observed, it was near the close 
of the season. Mr. Forrest was announced to play for 
that night only. So much excitement, however, did 
this single performance create, that the managers were 
induced to give him two nights more. Pizarro was 
selected, and he was announced for Roll a, which char 
acter he had to repeat, and with so much surprise to 
his friends, and the approval of the public, that his 
engagement might have been still longer extended. It 
had this effect, for when he did appear subsequently, it 
was here and elsewhere as the star of the dramatic 
firmament. Mr. Forrest was announced "from the 
theatre at Albany." His visit to Philadelphia was 
during the interval between the closing of the Albany 
theatre and the opening of the Bowery, with the mana 
ger of whom he was engaged. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKKEST. 87 

In the same year Mr. Forrest again returned to 
New York, and kindly offered his services to an ex 
cellent stock actor by the name of Woodhull, to play 
for his benefit. This was at the Park Theatre, on the 
23rd of May, 1826. The- play selected was Othello. 
It was from this hour we may trace the bright career of 
Mr. Forrest. It is a remarkable circumstance connected 
with these two benefits, that while it showed the feel 
ing Mr. Forrest entertained for his old friends, though 
still young in years, it also was the means of bringing 
himself more considerably before the public of the two 
largest cities of the country. Several persons claimed 
the credit of having brought Mr. Forrest out, among 
them were Gilfert, Hamblin, Sol. Smith and others. 
There was no bringing out about it. Forrest brought 
himself out. Neither John Swift or William B. Wood 
ever made any such claim on the credulity of the public ; 
they gave him a start, and he became the sole architect 
of his own fortune. He had no patron but his own 
genius, and well he knew on that he could depend. 
You cannot darken and degrade genius. 

-It may rust 



Dimly awhile, but cannot wholly die ; 
And when it wakens, it will send its fire 
Intenser forth, and higher." 



CHAPTER VI. 

GREAT THEATRICAL SEASON, 1825. KEAN, FORREST, 
MACREADY, LYDIA KELLY AND THOMAS A. COOPER, 
THE STARS. KEAN S RECEPTION. FORREST AS DA 
MON. HIS ENGAGEMENT AT THE PARK THEATRE, 

N. Y. STONE S TRAGEDY OF METAMORA. LUCIUS 
JUNIUS BOOTH. WILLIAM FORREST. SKETCH OF 
HIS LIFE. AN EPISODE. JOHN W. FORNEY. RE 
NEWAL OF EARLY FRIENDSHIP. 

r I ^HE theatrical season in Philadelphia commenced 
-*- on the 21st of November, 1825. It was rendered 
memorable by the second visit of Edmund Kean. Miss 
Lydia Kelly, Edwin Forrest, William Macready and 
Thomas A. Cooper were announced as regular stars. 

Mr. Kean arrived in New York in 1825, and made 
his first appearance at the Chestnut Street Theatre on 
the evening of January 18th, 1826, as Richard III. 
The writer of this was present, and perhaps, if we ex 
cept the Anderson riot, a more disgraceful scene never 
occurred within the walls of a theatre. A bitter feel 
ing was roused against the actor, in consequence of his 
making some very indiscreet remarks about the " Yan 
kees," during his first visit here, which the people had 
not forgotten. Rotten eggs, marbles, buttons, and other 
missiles were hurled upon the stage. The appear 
ance of Kean was the signal of assault. The play pro 
ceeded in dumb show. It was " Richard " pantomimed ! 

(88) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 89 

For awhile the opposition was kept up, until at last 
he was permitted to address the audience. The play 
then proceeded, but with occasional hisses. He closed 
this engagement on the 2nd of February, 1826, having 
played, without interruption, Kichard III., Othello, 
King Lear, Sir Giles Overreach, Brutus and Hamlet. 
Our judgment or taste may be at fault when we state 
that of all the characters in which we saw Mr. Kean, 
his Sir Giles Overreach is the only one that lives in 
our remembrance. His Shakesperian characters, al 
though they possessed great merit and power, seemed 
to us overstrained, in the rendering of which the spirit 
of the author was lost in the attempt of the actor to 
produce effects. This was not the case with his Sir 
Giles Overreach. As a finished portraiture of a grasp 
ing villain to obtain money and minister to his ambi 
tion, Mr. Kean s copy will ever remain a lasting tribute 
to his genius and talent. 

Mr/Kean s next engagement was on the 12th of 
June, 1826. Edwin Forrest succeeded him, commencing 
on the 5th of July with Othello, and although late in 
the season, drew good houses. This was Forrest s first 
star engagement. His second engagement was at the 
Walnut Street Theatre. Previous to which, however, 
he went to Washington City, where he played Damon 
for the first time. In a letter to a friend, dated 
" Washington City, October 14th, 1826," he says ; " I 
play Damon for the first time to-morrow night. * * 
I shall shortly play with Kean ; think of that." 

He opened at the Walnut Street Theatre, March 
7th, 1827, with Damon. During his engagement he 
played Othello, Eolla, William Tell, Sir Edward Mor 
timer, King Lear and Jaffier. On the last night of 



90 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

his engagement, March 24th, 1827, his brother William 
enacted Pythias to his Damon. We annex the an 
nouncement bill : 

WALNUT STREET THEATRE. 

Positively the last night of 

ME. E. FORREST S ENGAGEMENT. 

THIS EVENING, March 24th, 1827, 
Will be presented the favorite Tragedy of 

DAMON AND PYTHIAS ; 

OR, 
THE TEST OF FRIENDSHIP. 

DAMON, a Senator ME. E. FORREST. 

PYTHIAS, a Soldier, his friend MR. W. FORREST. 

After which, a comic Farce called 

IS HE JEALOUS ? 

OR, 

A PEEP INTO THE BOUDOIR. 

The public is respectfully acquainted that Mr. MACREADY will 
perform for a limited number of nights in this city, previous to his 
return to Europe, being positively the last engagement he can have 
the honor of making here. 

On Monday, OTHELLO Othello (for the first and only time 
here), Mr. Macready. 

It will be observed that Mr. Forrest, although but 
twenty-one years of age, was sandwiched between two 
of the most popular actors of the day Edmund Kean 
and William Macready. How did he come forth from 
this contest ? His after history is the answer. 

Mr. Forrest s first engagement at the Park Theatre, 
New York, was on the 17th of October, 1829, when he 
opened as Damon, and successfully appeared as Ham 
let, Lear, lago (to Cooper s Othello), Macbeth, Brutus 
and Carwin. On the 24th of the same month he be 
gan a new engagement as William Tell, and on the 
15th of November, 1829, took his benefit, when for the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 91 

first time on any stage, was represented Jolm A. Stone s 
tragedy of Metamora; or, The Last of the Wampa- 
noags. It was introduced by a neatly written prologue, 
the production of Prosper M. Whetmore, spoken by 
Mr. Barrett, and at its close a sprightly epilogue, writ 
ten by James Lawson, and recited by Mrs. Hilson. 

EDWIN FORREST AND LUCIUS JUNIUS BOOTH. 

Perhaps one of the most brilliant engagements of 
Mr. Forrest in the city of Philadelphia, was the one 
commencing at the Chestnut Street Theatre, Wednes 
day, December 8th, 1830. He opened with Damon, 
Mrs. Sharpe as Calanthe. On Thursday evening, De 
cember 9th, Mr. Booth and Mrs. Flynn appeared in the 
Merchant of Venice. On the 10th, Mr. Forrest pro 
duced Metamora first time at that theatre with 
Mrs. Sharpe as Nahmeokee, to a house crowded 
from pit to dome. Mr. Booth, as Sir Edward Morti 
mer, on the llth. On Monday, 13th, M. Forrest ap 
peared as William Tell. Our readers will perceive that 
these two eminent stars appeared on alternate nights. 
December 14th, Mr. Booth produced David Paul 
Brown s Sertorius; or, The Roman Patriots. This 
splendid combination of dramatic talent continued, 
each in their separate roles, until December 20th, 
1830, when the two brilliant stars came together in 
the great tragedy of Othello. Othello, Edwin For 
rest; lago, Mr. Booth. This was on the occasion of 
Mr. Forrest s benefit. Perhaps, with the exception of 
Thomas A. Cooper, with whom Mr. Forrest frequently 
played, no two more finished artists ever came together 
than those just named. It was not simply a display 
of elocutionary powers and the finished touch of true 



92 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

art, but close identification of the actor with the part. 
If Mr. Forrest s Othello was great, Mr. Booth s lago 
was equally so. 

At that period Mr. Booth s name was a tower of 
strength, and his lago was considered the best on the 
American Stage, and only equalled by that of William 
B. Wood, who in this part divided the honor with that 
excellent tragedian. 

MR. WILLIAM FORREST. 

This gentleman was born in the city of Philadel 
phia. His first appearance on the stage was at the 
Walnut Street Theatre, February 2nd, 1822, as Zaph- 
ina, in the play of Mahomet. He was announced as 
Master William Forrest. He followed his brother to 
Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was announced as making 
his first appearance on any stage. He had none of 
those strong evidences of genius which so distinguished 
his brother, his voice was a material drawback to stage 
success. He was an amiable and accomplished gentle 
man he was, however, a man of business, and in 1831 
we. find him one of the firm of Jones, Forrest & 
Duffy, managers of the Arch Street Theatre, and also 
of the firm of Duffy & Forrest, Albany, N. Y. 

At the close of the Arch Street Theatre season of 
1831, the firm was presented by the actors and others, 
with a silver cup, valued at one hundred dollars, for 
the honorable manner in which they had discharged all 
their obligations since they undertook the management 
of the Arch Street Theatre. The cup was presented 
by Morton McMichael, Esq., in one of his happiest 
speeches, and received by Mr. Jones, the senior part 
ner, with a suitable reply, nearly one hundred gentle- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 93 

men being assembled on the stage, where an elegant col 
lation was prepared, and the song and anecdote en 
livened the company, who dispersed about two o clock, 
A. M., highly pleased with the events of the evening. 
Mr. William Forrest died very suddenly in 1833, 
universally regretted, his good qualities having endeared 
him to all with whom he came in contact. It is some 
what singular that the manner of the death of these two 
brothers should be so similar. Well one moment the 
next dead ! In the full seeming of good health at night 
the next morning lying calm and cold in death ! 
Thus the fate of both. When we saw Edwin Forrest 
lying on his bed the morning of his death, called thither 
by the servant in haste, we imagined him in a trance or 
a stupor. His flesh was warm ; no contortion of features, 
no indication of having suffered pain ; so calm in slum 
ber-like, that we immediately commenced bathing his 
head with cologne water, raising it up, and placing the 
whole body in a more reclining manner, when of a sud 
den it flashed upon us this is death ! In less than 
fifteen minutes we had a doctor at the bedside. All 
was over. The genial, social gentleman, the great 
tragedian, had passed away, as had his brother thirty- 
nine years before. On that calm face the spoiler had 
forever set his seal of silence. 

" But there beam d a smile 
So fixed and holy from that marble brow 
Death gazed and loft it there ; he dared not steal 
The signet ring of heaven." 

At the time of William Forrest s death, his brother 
was playing an engagement in New Orleans, and the 
writer of this was also in the Crescent City at the same 
time. It may probably occur to the reader that our 



94 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

early acquaintance with Mr. Edwin Forrest was still 
kept up, in another place we have alluded to this ; let 
us introduce here an EPISODE, which will explain in 
some measure the reason of our not coming together 
during all the long years intervening between boyhood 
and manhood. 

Our youthful associations were broken off when 
Mr. Forrest went West in 1822. It was not renewed 
until John W. Forney, Esq., brought us together some 
thirty-five years afterward. Mr. Forrest had not the 
least idea that " Colley Gibber" and his companion in 
the days of the " Old Apollo/ were the same, under 
that nom de plume. Many of our readers are aware 
that we omitted no opportunity of expressing an opin 
ion of Mr. Forrest s acting ; and while giving him all 
due credit for the opening buds of promise displayed, 
we never neglected pointing out the thorns which 
came forth with them. Then he knew us not. As 
this interview, brought about by Col. Forney, forms a 
very important epoch in our life, and brought together 
two persons of entirely different pursuits, we give the 
circumstances attending it. 

Mr. Forrest, looking us full in the face, said : " Not 
long since, sir, I saw you in New Orleans, sitting with 
James H. Caldwell, in his private box. Your face then 
was familiar to me. On another occasion I saw you 
with Mr. J. Bates, in Cincinnati. I asked him who 
you were. He^ replied : Oh, a great friend of yours, 
a Philadelphian/ I also asked Harris Gr. Pearson the 
same question, in New Orleans, if he knew you. His 
reply was : i Yes, from a boy ; and now, for the first 
time, I am told by my friend Forney, that James Kees 
and Colley Cibber are one and the same person." We 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 95 

may as well state here, also, that Col. Forney was 
equally surprised when he found it necessary to intro 
duce us. 

To many it may appear somewhat singular why we 
did not take an opportunity of making ourselves known 
to Mr. Forrest during the many years that had inter 
vened. As an actor we admired him, and felt more 
real pleasure in speaking of him than we imagined we 
should enjoy in speaking to him. We had heard of his 
being abrupt and brusque in his manner with strangers, 
and this would not suit our temperament, so we told 
him, giving it as our reason for avoiding him. Turn 
ing to Col. Forney, he said : " That is honest, and I 
like it." He caught me by the hand, saying : " Come 
and see me, for if I am a wild lion abroad, I am at 
least a tame one at home." 

We did call, and often since regretted that such an 
opinion of Mr. Forrest should have been the means of 
keeping us so long in ignorance of the many noble and 
excellent traits in his character. The memory of Mr. 
Forrest is as dear to us now as was his friendship while 
living ; and the only regret we have is that his epitaph 
should not have been the public s approbation on his 
last act instead of its censure. We speak the general 
sentiment when we say the curtain fell too soon on the 
last act of the drama of life in which Mr. Forrest 
played so prominent a part. There should have been 
an episode, but Heaven decreed it otherwise, and those 
who should have been remembered in the final close of 
a great man s life, passed away with the fall of the 
curtain from all connection, save that of remembrance, 
with the fortunes or recorded words of friendship of 
Edwin Forrest. John Swift, Esq., the earliest and 



96 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

stauncliest friend he ever had ; Col. John W. Forney, 
who stood by him in the darkest hour of his life his 
Pythias and his advocate. Well, the curtain fell, as 
we have said, too soon. The bell had sounded, the 
drama was over, and 

" The actor s fame 
Knells in the ear of the world." 

And the feet of strangers sound unreal in the halls 
of his splendid mansion, where once was heard those 
of the friends of his youth and the champions of his 
fame. 



CHAPTER VII. 
i 

DRAMATIC AUTHORS. JOHN AUGUSTUS STONE. DR. 
BIRD. ROBERT T. CONRAD. JACK CADE. GLAD 
IATOR. ORALOOSA. SUCCESS ATTENDING THEIR 

PRODUCTION. SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF THE AU 
THOR OF METAMORA. RICHARD PENN SMITH. 
CAIUS MARIUS. 

A FTER Mr. Forrest s great success as a youthful 
-jL star, and having played Othello, so as to divide 
the honor with Mr. Cooper, he could command, instead 
of being led, by others. From the year 1830 we date 
his upward course ; from that time forth his ability was 
universally acknowledged. For several years he was the 
bright particular star of the " mimic world/ Having 
played all the popular pieces so well known to play 
goers, his natural feeling awakened in him a desire to 
produce something that would bring our own writers 



LIFE OF EDWIN FO 11 REST. 97 

before the public. The celebrated Indian play of 
Metamora brought Mr. Forrest before the public in 
quite a new character. Our readers are familiar not 
only with the peculiar characteristics of this play, but 
also the extraordinary power and aboriginal delinea 
tion of Metamora by Edwin Forrest. This drama was 
indebted for its success almost entirely to the actor, as 
its literary merits were feeble compared to the produc 
tions of a Conrad and a Bird. Mr. Forrest paid the 
author five hundred dollars for the piece, but subse 
quently did much more for the unfortunate man who 
wrote it. 

JOHN AUGUSTUS STONE 

was born in Concord, N. H., 1801. Made his first 
appearance on the stage at the Washington Garden 
Theatre, Boston, as Old Norval in Douglas. In 1821 
he married Mrs. Legg. First appeared in New York in 
1826, at the Bowery Theatre. Removed to Philadel 
phia and played at the Prune Street Theatre, also at 
the Chestnut and Walnut Street Theatres. Mr. Stone 
produced his tragedy of Fauntleroy in Charleston, 
S. C. Metamora was first played on the occasion 
of Mr. Forrest s benefit at the Park Theatre, New 
York, November 15th, 1829. First produced in this 
city at the Arch Street Theatre, January 22nd, 1830. 
Mr. Stone also wrote The Demoniac, Tancred, The 
Restoration ; or, The Diamond Cross, The Ancient 
Briton, played at the Arch Street Theatre, March 
27th, 1833, Golden Fleece, etc. His unhappy death 
by suicide occurred in this city June 1st, 1834. It 
was most deliberate, having made two attempts by 
throwing himself from Spruce Street wharf, Schuylkill ; 
6 



98 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

from the first he was rescued, and led those who saved 
him to believe it was an accident. A few hours after 
ward his body was found floating in the dock. Mr. 
Stone was a man of nervous temperament, and had oc 
casionally displayed symptoms of incipient insanity. Mr. 
Forrest caused to be erected a neat monument over his 
grave at Machpelah Cemetery, bearing this inscription : 

" In memory of the 

Author of Metamora, 

By His Friend, 

E. FORREST." 

What a volume does this simple inscription convey ! 

As a matter of dramatic history connected with 
Metamora, we give the cast as originally played in New 
York. 

METAMORA MR. E. FORREST. 

LORD FITZARNOLD Mr. RICIIINGS. 

SIR ARTHUR VAUGHN MR. CHAPMAN. 

GrUY OP GODALMAN MR. WOODHULL. 

HORATIO MR. BARRY. 

ERRINGTON MR. LANGTON. 

CHURCH MR. T. PLACIDE. 

WOLFE MR. NIXEM. 

TRAMP MR. POVEY. 

HOLYOKE MR. WHEATLEY. 

KAUSHENE MR. BLAKELEY. 

CHILD Miss PARKER. 

OCEANA MRS. HlLSON. 

NAHMEOKEE MRS. SHARPE. 

Whatever faults this tragedy may possess as a lit 
erary or dramatic production, its real merits keep it 
living on the stage ; and in the character of the hero, 
no dissenting voice has qualified Mr. Forrest s claim to 
the highest excellence. It was created for, and entirely 
fitted all his peculiarities. 

The next American author who found a patron in 
Edwin Forrest was Kichard Penn Smith, Esq. On 
the 12th of January, 1831, he produced Caius, at the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 99 

Arch Street Theatre. It was not a success. A writer, 
speaking of this play, says : " It was not fairly treated 
by the actors, and consequently coldly received by the 
audience." Mr. Forrest paid much better for original 
plays than the managers, who being able to purchase 
the best plays of English dramatists for a few shillings, 
felt little disposition to risk hundreds on native pro 
ductions. Forrest, however, tried the experiment 
risked thousands of dollars and succeeded. In regular 
succession Mr. Forrest produced several American plays 
Dr. Bird s Gladiator, Oraloosa, Broker of Bogota, 
and Judge Conrad s Jack Cade. The first and the 
last piece named, probably brought more money into 
the treasury of a theatre and into that of the actor s, 
than that of any two other plays in his repertoire. 

Oraloosa was produced at the Arch Street Thea 
tre October 10th, 1832. It did not produce the effect 
the Gladiator had hence its failure. The public had 
looked for something even better than the hero of 
the arena, and found an inferior. It lacked plot and 
incident, the dialogue tame, and, taken altogether, it 
was a dramatic failure. An incident occurred on its 
first representation which Mr. Wemyss, in his " Twenty- 
Six Years of the Life of an Actor," thus relates : " To 
me the 10th of October and the tragedy of Oraloosa 
form no pleasing remembrance although they can 
never be forgotten. They have caused me in mimic 
fight, too real for fancy, the loss of two front teeth, 
which Edwin Forrest, in the furore of acting, dis 
placed from their original stronghold in my mouth by 
a thrust from his sword at the head of Don Christoval, 
occasioning some of the wags of the green-room an 
opportunity of making a bad pun by declaring that 



100 LIFE OF EDWIN FOIIREST. 

Forrest wished to teach me the proper pronunciation 
of the name of the play by forcing me to say to him, 
" Oh-they -are-loose-sir." 

As the plays of the Gladiator and Bogota are 
familiar to our readers, it is not necessary to speak of 
them here. The latter, however if we dare express 
an honest opinion may be considered in our dramatic 
volume in the same light that Lear is in that of the 
English. Superior as the latter is to all others in their 
country, so is the Broker to all others in our own. 
The Gladiator, by Dr. Bird, is also familiar to our 
readers, as is the name of Robert T. Conrad with the 
play of Jack Cade. 

The Gladiator was first produced in Philadelphia at 
the Arch Street Theatre, on the 24th of October, 1831. 
Mr. Forrest s Spartacus, from the first night of the 
Gladiator until the day of his death, was considered 
the perfection of the art histrionic, and it will long be 
remembered as one of the gems that shone upon the 
stage from the brilliant mind of Edwin Forrest. Mr. 
John E. Scott played Phaisarius, for which he secured 
a compliment both from Mr. Forrest and the author. 
There are many passages in the Gladiator of ex 
treme poetic beauty ; the language generally is bold 
and impressive, and at times soars far above the gen 
eral standard of dramatic literature. The house on the 
occasion was crowded in fact, it was a perfect ovation 
to native talent as displayed by author and actor. 

JACK CADE. 

Jack Cade, or at least the play by this name, was 
not originally written for Edwin Forrest. Not long 
since we had occasion to allude to this play in connec- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 101 

tion with the author and actor, and as the article forms 
a link in the chain of our reminiscences we give it 
here : 

Kobert T. Conrad s first production was Conrad 
of Naples, produced at the Arch Street Theatre, 
Philadelphia, on the evening of January 17th, 1832, Mr. 
James E. Murdoch enacting the part of Conrad. Mr. 
Conrad s crowning effort, however, was Jack Cade, 
which is now acknowledged as the most successful 
play ever produced on the American stage. The history 
of this great American play, and every play has its 
history, may not prove uninteresting to our readers. 

In the year 1835, Robert T. Conrad, Esq., wrote a 
tragedy for A. A. Addams, at the suggestion of F. C. 
Weymss, at that time manager of the Walnut Street 
Theatre. If Mr. Addams approved of the play, he 
(Mr. Weymss) was to give Mr. Conrad three hundred 
dollars for the manuscript copy, and a benefit on the 
third night of its representation. It was called The 
Noble Yeoman. The title was subsequently altered 
to Aylmere, and finally to Jack Cade. Addams 
was delighted with the play, it was accepted, and 
L. A. Godey and Morton McMichael witnessed the 
contract between F. C. Weymss and Eobert T. Conrad. 
The document bears date October 2nd, 1835. 

On the night of the intended representation, Mr. 
Addams was seized with a disease to which he was 
subject, and of which he ultimately died. This disease 
is one of a peculiar character, and is known in the 
medical world as mania-d-potu. In consequence the 
play was postponed. The part was then given to a 
young and talented actor by the name of Ingersoll, and 
against the wishes of Mr. Conrad and the committee. 



102 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

The piece was first played at the Walnut Street Thea 
tre on the 9th of December, 1835. 

Mr. A. A. Addams first enacted the part on the first 
of February, 1836, and made a failure. The third 
night the proceeds amounted to only one hundred and 
eighteen dollars. 

In 1839 the first proposition was made to Mr. Edwin 
Forrest to play the part, providing Judge Conrad 
would rewrite it. We pass over this portion of the 
history of Jack Cade as possessing no dramatic in 
terest, until it came into the hands of Mr. Forrest. 
This gentleman superintended the alterations, adapt 
ing certain portions to suit his transcendent powers, 
and having purchased the sole right and title of the 
piece from the author, Kobert T. Conrad, he prepared 
himself for its production under the title of Jack Cade. 

It was first played at the Park Theatre, New York, 
on the 24th of May, 1840, under its second title 
of Aylmere ; or, The Kentish Rebellion, but after 
wards changed to that of Jack Cade. It was sub 
sequently played at the Arch Street Theatre, Phila 
delphia, June 16th, 1841, since which time the genius of 
Mr. Forrest, with his high-wrought dramatic powers, 
has thrown around the great character of Cade an at 
mosphere so refined in its elementary principles that 
no one as yet has been enabled to destroy its influence. 
The actor and hero of the piece unite and maintain a 
supremacy over all competitors. Those who have es 
sayed it lacked the fire the soul, the startling mental 
and physical powers of this great master of the his 
trionic art. 

In a future chapter we will allude more particular 
ly to these plays and their authors. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

CONTEMPLATES AN EUROPEAN TOUR. TAKES LEAVE 

OF HIS PHILADELPHIA FRIENDS. HIS SPEECH 

ON THE OCCASION. BOWERY THEATRE, N. Y. 

THOMAS A. COOPER. FORREST ENACTS THE PART 

OF DENTATUS IN THE PLAY OF V1RGINIUS. BRO 
KER OF BOGOTA. SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MR. 

COOPER. COMPLIMENTARY DINNER TO MR. FOR 
REST. TESTIMONIALS. GOLD MEDAL. FAREWELL 

SPEECH. DEPARTURE TO EUROPE. 

~A/TR. FORREST having amassed a fortune, or at 
-L -L- least sufficient to justify a cessation from his 
labors, determined to make the tour of Europe as a 
private gentleman, and not as a distinguished tra 
gedian. He had read of those lands in which the 
heroes of the "mimic world" flourished in all their 
might and glory. He longed to tread the classic 
ground on which the poets of old immortalized their 
heroes in inspired verse. To a mind alive to all that 
appertained to art, the idea of visiting foreign lands is 
at all times pleasing, but the reality to one of Mr. 
Forrest s taste and judgment was but the consumma 
tion of his boyhood s dream. 

On the 2nd of April, 1833, he played his farewell 
engagement, previous to his departure, at the Arch 
Street Theatre. The play was King Lear, and it was 
remarked at the time that his impersonation of the 
irritable, choleric old king of fourscore and upward, was 

(103) 



104 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

the most chaste performance that had ever been seen, 
not even equalled by the elder Kean. After the play 
Mr. Forrest was unanimously called for ; he responded 
to the call, and thus addressed the audience : 

" LADIES ASTD GENTLEMEN: I cannot resist the oppor 
tunity which now discloses itself, of returning to you my 
cordial thanks for the very kind manner with which you 
have been pleased to notice my humble efforts, and for 
your untired and warm support of my exertions to please 
you as a tragedian. (Cheers.) But particularly, I feel 
grateful for the honorable support I have received in my 
anxious endeavors to give to my country, by fostering 
the exertions of our literary friends, something like what 
might be called an American national drama. (Reiterated 
cheers.) Some time must elapse before we can meet again. 
I am now going to a foreign land, to study the voluminous 
book of nature amid the extensive forests, the flowering 
prairies, and the wild mountain tops; and though I may 
not be blessed by your smiles in my progress, it shall be 
my duty to deserve them the more on my return, when 
next season we shall meet again, Wishing you all, there 
fore, health and happiness, ladies and gentlemen, with un 
feigned gratitude and a lively sense of your favors, I re 
gretfully bid you all adieu ! " (Continued cheers.) 

On the 27th of November, 1833, Mr. Forrest com 
menced an engagement at the Bowery Theatre, N. Y., 
as Damon ; followed by Macbeth, Virginius, Holla, 
Metamora, Spartacus, Othello, Oraloosa, and Carwin. 
He was ably supported by Henry Wallack, Mrs. Mc- 
Clure and Mrs. Flynn. This engagement closed on the 
23d of December. He commenced a new engagement 
on the 5th of February, 1834, as Metamora. On the 8th, 
Mr. Cooper appeared as Pierre, to Forrest s Jaffier and 
Mrs. McClure s Belvidera. On the llth, Cooper played 
Damon, with Forrest as Pythias. On the 12th, Julius 
Cassar was played Cooper as Cassius, Forrest as Marc 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 1Q5 

I 

Antony. On the 17th, Mr. Cooper took his benefit 
playing Virginius one of his best preserved parts, sup 
ported by Hamblin as Icilius ! and FORREST as DENTA- 
TUS ! Miss Priscilla Elizabeth Cooper as Virginia. 

Such a combination of dramatic talent is seldom to 
be found in stage annals ; there is also another feature 
in this connection to which we allude. Mr. Cooper had 
been Mr. Forrest s idol ; he had looked upon him as 
the great master of the histrionic art, and although not 
his tutor was the classic model from which he fashioned 
his own impersonations. At that period Mr. Cooper 
was only fifty-eight years of age, yet he was far more 
feeble than others of his own time of life, and it began 
to show its effect on his acting. Mr. Forrest was at that 
time in the very prime of life, full of strength, and at 
the age of twenty-eight a rising star that was to eclipse 
all other luminaries. Here was the man who in his 
boyhood looked upon Cooper, the great actor, as some 
mythical god, to be worshipped, taking an equal part 
in the great works of the master spirit of the " mimic 
world/ and illustrating by his genius and the powers 
of art the noblest pictures that were ever drawn by 
mortal hand. Here was master and pupil contending 
in the arena for fame the one having reached its apex, 
the other striving to gain it. The youthful vine was 
twining itself around the falling oak, giving it new life 
new vigor. Both have now passed away ; the laurels 
that wreathed their brows, and gathered new vigor 
each succeeding season, still deck their memory ; and 
although ages may pass away, the names of Cooper 
and Forrest will never be forgotten while the stage and 
the drama maintain their character and usefulness in 
the world. On the 15th of July, 1834, Mr. Forrest 



106 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

concluded his last engagement at the Bowery Theatre, 
previous to his visiting Europe. The play on the occa 
sion was The Broker of Bogota. 

As Mr. Cooper s name is identified with our stage 
history, as well as that of the subject of these Rem 
iniscences, a short sketch of his life may not be out 
of place. 

Thomas Althorpe Cooper was born in London in 
1776. At an early age he lost his father, and became 
the ward of Messrs. Holcroft and Godwin, names well 
known in British literature and politics, the latter be 
ing the celebrated author of " Caleb Williams/ " Fleet- 
wood," etc. At the age of nineteen he made his first 
successful appearance on the stage, in London, as 
Hamlet, under the auspices of his gifted guardians and 
other gentlemen of learning and influence. Although 
he had partially failed as Malcolm, in Macbeth, his 
first unsuccessful attempt, he subsequently achieved a 
triumph in the latter character. Mrs. Merry, after she 
had retired from the stage, was passing some time in 
Bath, England, where she received a letter from her 
husband, telling her that a a most extraordinary lad of 
nineteen, named Cooper, said to be a ward of Godwin, 
has created much sensation by his admirable perform 
ance of Hamlet, but more of Macbeth." 

It was Mrs. Merry who suggested young Cooper to 
Mr. Wignell, who was in England looking up recruits 
for the Chestnut Street Theatre. Wignell, at the in 
stance of Mr. and Mrs. Merry, engaged him, offering 
him a first-class engagement. He made his first ap 
pearance in Philadelphia, at the Chestnut Street The 
atre, on the 9th of December, 1796, as Macbeth. " At 
this time," says William B. Wood, "several persons of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 1Q7 

education condescended to notice the actors and plays. 
With most of these Fennell and Moreton had won 
high estimation, and Cooper s debut seemed likely to 
darken the fame of the old favorites." 

Cooper made his first appearance in New York Park 
Theatre, on the 28th of February, 1798, in the part of 
Hamlet. A writer says, speaking of his debut: " With 
a handsome face and noble person, a fine mellow voice, 
unusual dignity of manner and grace of action, and in 
his declamation most forcible and eloquent. As a tra 
gedian he was without a rival." In 1800, Cooper had 
the honor of acting upon the first theatre ever opened 
in the City of Washington. The parts in Venice Pre 
served, on this occasion, were filled thus : Jaffier, Wig- 
nell ; Pierre, Cooper ; Priuli, Warren ; Belvidere, Mrs. 
Merry. In 1802 he entered upon a career of starring, 
finding it less laborious and far more profitable than 
the drudgery of a stock actor. He saw Fennell, who 
was declining in power and estimation, yet receiving in 
six or eight nights a larger remuneration than he was 
receiving for three months regular service. 

These two eminent stars came together like two 
planets, by each other s attraction, and began playing 
together about the year 1799. Fennell s Othello was 
his masterpiece, and when Cooper, in the full face of 
the other s popularity, essayed the part, it was almost 
a failure, judging by the worst of all rules of criticism 
comparison. 

Fennell invariably made the Moor black ; in fact, a 
decided negro. Cooper tinged his skin to the color of 
a mulatto ; or, more properly speaking, to that of a 
Moor. Cooper, at first, was very imperfect in the text, 
as, for instance, when he has to use these words : 



108 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

" Yet I will not scar that whiter skin than snow, 
and smooth as monumental alabaster ; " 

He substituted : 

" I will not scar that beauteous form, as white as 
snow and hard as monumental alabaster." 

An actor by the name of Higgins, not to be out 
done by Cooper, on one occasion playing the Duke, in 
Othello, having to say these words : 

" Take up this tangled matter at the best," etc. ; 
actually substituted the following : 

" Take up the Star Spangled Banner and carry it 
off to the West." 

This is an actual fact. Higgins was a member of 
the old South Street Theatre Amateur Company. His 
extraordinary interpretation of the language of Shake 
speare was the cause of his leaving the theatre. He 
went to New Orleans, became a member of Caldwell s 
company, and when last we saw him in the Crescent 
City, he was selling lottery tickets and lottery poli 
cies, to the demoralization of those who encouraged 
him. 

In 1806 Cooper became manager of the Park The 
atre, and afterward associated with Stephen Price, with 
whom he continued several years, till he resigned man 
agement for the more profitable career of starring. His 
first wife, formerly Mrs. Upton, a daughter of David 
Johnson, Esq., of N. Y., died in 1808 ; and by his mar 
riage, in 1812, with the most beautiful and brilliant 
belle of the city (the Sophy Sparkle of Irving s Salma 
gundi), Miss Mary Fairlie, daughter of the celebrated 
wit, Major James Fairlie, and grand-daughter of Gov. 
Kobert Yates. Mr. Cooper became allied to some of the 
most eminent families in the State, and his society was 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 109 

eagerly courted by all who made pretensions to taste 
or fashion. 

Mr. Cooper visited England in 1803 ; his reception 
was cold, for he claimed to be an American actor a 
title which at that time, and up to 1845, was far from 
being a recommendation. In 1828 he again visited 
England, and was actually hissed and groaned while 
playing at Drury Lane Theatre. During his first visit 
to England he played lago to Cooke s Othello. He 
subsequently visited Liverpool ; he then went to Man 
chester, and opened with Richard III., Cooke s great 
part. Upon his appearance, a large audience greeted 
him with every kind of noise and insult, and shouts for 
" Cooke ! Cooke ! " " No Yankee actors !" " Off with 
him," and other offensive cries. Such was Cooper s 
reception in England, simply because he was looked 
upon as a " Yankee." 

After his retirement from the stage, the marriage 
of his amiable and accomplished daughter, Miss Pris- 
cilla Elizabeth Cooper, to Robert Tyler, a son of Presi 
dent Tyler, afforded him the advantage of Presidential 
patronage, and in November, 1841, he was appointed 
Military Storekeeper to the Arsenal, Frankford, Pa., 
with the pay and perquisites of a captain of infantry. 
Subsequently he was appointed to a situation in the 
New York Custom House, a situation he held until a 
short time before his death, which took place at Bris 
tol, Pa., April 21st, 1849 ; aged 73 years. 

In the summer of 1834, Mr. Forrest was honored 
by a public banquet tendered him by his numerous 
friends in New York, which was attended by some of 
the most distinguished citizens. Numerous testimo 
nials were shown him by his countrymen as compli- 



HO LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

mentary to his genius and talents. This pleasing 
event took place on the 25th of July, 1834. Chan 
cellor McCoun presided. On the right of the presi 
dent was seated the guest in whose honor the feast 
was provided, and on his left the Hon. Cornelius 
Lawrence, Mayor of the city. Among the guests 
were the managers of the several principal theatres. 
The address of the distinguished president was a 
brilliant one; he alluded to Mr. Forrest s close iden 
tification with what is called the "American 
Drama." During the short period of eight years, 
five productions have been written principally through 
his instrumentality, which else, perhaps would never 
have found their way into existence. Gentlemen, 
continued President McCoun : 

"I have thus far dwelt on points in the performer s his 
tory and character, with which you are all acquainted. There 
are other topics on which I might touch, did I not fear to 
invade the heart not less entitled to your admiration. 
But there are some feelings, in breasts of honor and deli 
cacy, which, though commendable, cannot brook exposure ; 
as there are plants which flourish in the caves of the ocean, 
that wither when brought to the light of the day. I shall, 
therefore, simply say, that in private relations, as in public 
career, he has performed well his part, and made esteem a 
twin sentiment with admiration in every heart that knows 
him. I need not tell you, gentlemen, that I speak of Ed 
win Forrest. 

"Mr. Forrest is on the eve of departure for foreign 
lands. To a man combining so many claims for our regard, 
it lias been thought proper, by his fellow-citizens, to pre 
sent a farewell token of friendship and respect ; a token 
which may at once serve to keep him mindful that Ameri 
cans properly appreciate the genius and worth of their own 
land ; and which may testify to foreigners the high place 
he holds in our esteem. 

" Mr. Forrest, I now place this memorial in your hands. 
It is one in which many of your countrymen have been 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

emulous to bear a part. It is a proud proof of unusual 
virtues and talents, and as such may be proudly worn. 
You will mingle in throngs where jewelled insignia glit 
ter on titled breasts; but yours may justly be the reflec 
tion, that few badges of distinction are the reward of 
qualities so deserving of honor, as those attested by the 
humbler memorial which now rests upon your bosom." 

With these remarks, the President introduced 
the toast, which was as follows : 

" Edwin Forrest : estimable for his virtues admirable 
for his talents. Good wishes attend his departure, and 
warm hearts will greet his return." 

The committee appointed to get up the gold 
medal, presented on the occasion, consisted of: Ogden 
Hoffman, Fitz-Greene Halleck, Dr. Hosack, Judge 
Talmadge, William C. Bryant, Washington Irving, 
William G. Simms, Kobert W. Weir, T. H. Per 
kins, Jr., Philip Hone, and others. The medal was 
designed by Ingham and engraved by C. C. Durand. 
It represents Mr. Forrest in profile, surrounded by the 
words : 

"Histrioni Optimo, Edwino Forrest, Viro-Praestanti;" 
and on the reverse, a figure of the Genius of Tragedy, 
with the following appropriate quotation from the great 
bard of Avon : " Great in mouths of wisest censure." 

The applause which followed the President s 
speech, and presentation of the medal, fully approved 
of its sentiments. As soon as it had subsided, Mr. 
Forrest rose, and though somewhat affected, replied as 
follows : 

" This token of your regard, I need not tell you how 
dearly I shall prize. I am about to visit foreign lands. In 
a few months, I shall probably behold the tomb of Garrick 
Garrick, the pupil of Johnson, the companion and friend 
of statesmen and wits Garrick, who now sleeps sur- 



112 LIFE OF EDWIN FOBREST. 

rounded by the relics of the kings and heroes, orators 
and bards, the magnets of the earth. I shall contem 
plate the mausoleum which encloses the remains of Talma 
Talma, the familiar friend of him, before whom mon- 
archs trembled. I shall tread the classic soil with which 
is mingled the dust of Roscius of Roscius, the preceptor 
of Cicero, whose voice was lifted for him at the forum, 
and whose tears were shed upon his grave. While I 
thus behold with deferential awe, the last resting places 
of those departed monarchs of the drama, how will my 
bosom kindle with pride at the reflection, that I, so in 
ferior in desert, have yet been honored with a token as 
proud as ever rewarded their successful efforts. I shall 
then look upon this memorial; but while my eye is riveted 
within its golden round, my mind will travel back to this 
scene and this hour, and my heart will be with you in my 
native land. 

" Mr. President, in conclusion let me express my grate 
ful sense of goodness by proposing, as a sentiment : 

" The Citizens of New York : Distinguished not more 
by intelligence, enterprise and integrity, than by that gen 
erous and noble spirit which welcomes the stranger and 
succors the friendless." 

Shortly after this demonstration on the part of his 
friends, Mr. Forrest might have exclaimed with Ham 
let, although with a different result : 

Hamlet. For England? 
King. Ay, Hamlet. 
Hamlet. Come, for England 1 



CHAPTER IX. 

IN EUROPE. PILGRIM ON THE RHINE. IN ASIA. 
NAPLES. VENICE. VERONA. TOMB OF JULIET. 
GLANCE OF TRAVEL. THE YANKEE IN ST. PETERS 
BURG. INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE M. DALLAS. 
MOROCCO. ROME. THE VATICAN. VALUE OF A 
PICTURE. CASTLE OF ST. ANGELO. AN INCIDENT. 
DELARUE. A PAGE FROM CLASSIC HISTORY. 

IF Mr. Forrest kept a journal of his travels, of which 
we are not aware, what a theme for one so gift 
ed a mind richly imbued with classical lore, a soul 
tuned to poetry, and a lover of all that was beautiful 
in nature and rich in art, to write and speak about ! 
Suffice for us to say, that he mingled in the festivities 
of Paris, visited all the places of interest, which the 
startling events of ages had rendered memorable, and 
stained its record with blood ! How he became a pil 
grim of the Danube, wandered over Switzerland, visited 
the places where the fabulous William Tell was sup 
posed to have held his mythical existence and perform 
all sorts of mythical deeds. He sailed on the raging 
Baltic, and travelled on the patriotic ground of Poland. 
He was seen standing on the lofty parapet of the Krem 
lin, at Moscow, surveying from its giddy height the 
sacred city of the mighty Autocrat of all the Russias. 
He gazed upon the crescent towers of Constantinople, 
crossed the Euxine, and wandered over portions of Asia 
7 (113) 



114 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Minor. Then we find him sojourning in Africa, tread 
ing upon the soil that gave birth to Othello, whom the 
great artist painted as one of the most noble and ac 
complished of the proud children of the Ommades and 
the Albacides, and who Koderigo profanely called 
"thick lips/ and lago styled the "Devil." Then at 
Naples, gazing on the glorious Adriatic, or watching 
the smoke and fire as they curl and blaze up in terrific 
grandeur from Vesuvius. For two hundred years this 
chimney of the earth has thrown out its smoke and 
flame to admiring millions, and not unfrequently turn 
ing that admiration into horror, for death and destruc 
tion were around them. Follow him to Venice there 
he stands on the Bridge of Sighs, which, like a bracelet, 
encircles the arm of the bride of the Adriatic. City of 
Lakes and five hundred bridges, gondoliers and assas 
sins ! There, too, he thought of Shylock, as he stood 
on the Kialto, with its single arch of 187 feet. There, 
too, was the Doge s palace, and its proud, towering 
Campanile. Then he gazed on the Corinthian horse, 
the workmanship of Lysippus, who lived in the time of 
Alexander the Great, and the winged lion of the Pira3us. 
Then we see him at Verona, standing beside the 
sarcophagus of Juliet the Juliet of Shakespeare s 
tragedy of Borneo and Juliet. We have simply 
glanced over places and scenes witnessed by Mr. For 
rest in his travels. We will now relate one or two 
incidents connected with them : 

THE YANKEE IN ST. PETERSBUKG. 

When Mr. Forrest was in St. Petersburg, the Hon. 
George M. Dallas was the American Minister at the Im 
perial Court. The great actor and that accomplished 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. H5 

statesman met frequently ; every attention was paid the 
former, and facilities afforded him of seeing everything 
worthy the attention of a traveller. We give the fol 
lowing incident, using our own language, adhering, 
however, as strictly as memory will permit, to that 
in which it was related to us by Mr. Forrest. 

" I am very much troubled," said Dallas, one day, 
to Mr. Forrest, "about a countryman of ours." 

"Who is he?" 

"Well, I really do not know; he seems a sort of 
Cosmopolite. He says he is from Massachusetts, trav 
elling, as he says, to pick up information." 

" Why, how does he trouble you ?" 

"In this way he wants me to introduce him to 
the Emperor." 

"And why not?" 

" Simply because he is an adventurer, without a 
single letter of introduction." 

" He has his passport ? " 

"Yes but his appearance, and my having no 
knowledge of the man, will not justify such a breach 
of court etiquette." 

Forrest agreed with Mr. Dallas and observed : 

" The fellow is probably an impostor." 

"No," replied Dallas; "he is a true genuine Yan 
kee a man of some education evidently well read ; 
but his dress ; he wears large coarse boots over his pan 
taloons, which, being wide, gives him the appearance 
of a down-east fisherman. He stands about six feet in 
height, carries an enormous cane or rather club and 
altogether presents a formidable, if not to the police, a 
suspicious person. He is, I know, under strict surveil 
lance." 



116 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

"I should like to see this man." 

" So you can, but now comes the most amusing part 
of my interview with him, when I stated the impractica 
bility of his request, and that I could not take so much 
liberty with the Emperor, he turned upon his heel say 
ing: Well, Squire, I think I shall introduce myself. " 

Some days after this conversation Mr. Forrest 
called upon Mr. Dallas, and found him somewhat ex 
cited. 

"I have just returned from the palace, where I had 
gone on special business, and by appointment. When 
I was ushered into his majesty s presence, whom do 
you suppose was with him ? " 

"Really, I don t know!" 

" That Yankee ; boots, stick and all." 

Forrest laughed outright. 

" Yes, there he was, sitting near to the Emperor, 
and in the most emphatic, as well as familiar manner, 
was explaining some theory of his, to which the Em 
peror seemed to listen with much interest. As I ap 
proached, the Yankee turned his head ; and seeing me, 
exclaimed : 

" How d ye do, Squire. You see I am here/ 

" To my surprise the Emperor dismissed him with 
these words : 

" We will talk this matter over again/ and turn 
ing to an attendant, said: Conduct this gentleman 
out/ When the visitor had disappeared, the Emperor 
said : c A strange man that a great traveller a man 
of wonderful knowledge/ 

" I did not contradict him, as I found the fellow 
had, by some means unknown to me, obtained an in 
terview." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOHKEST. H7 

"But how and by what means did he gain admis- 
eion?" 

"In this way, as I subsequently ascertained. 

"It seems that he had been all over St. Petersburg, 
making inquiries relative to the various places of inter 
est, and whenever he could gain admission, apart from 
places of amusement, he availed himself of the priv 
ilege by examining everything thoroughly and telling 
all he knew about similar establishments in America. 
What attracted his attention the most were the mili 
tary schools. Into one of these the " School of Ca 
dets" our Yankee found his way. The military 
schools of Kussia receive the special attention of the 
Emperor. His officers are strict disciplinarians, and 
study to gain the confidence of their ruler as well as to 
carry out his plans on all occasions. The command 
ant of the "School of Cadets " soon discovered that his 
visitor was no common man ; his military knowledge 
was extensive, and he so won upon the Russian officer 
that he listened to our Yankee s full description of 
West Point and other military establishments of the 
United States with the closest attention. You are 
behind the age, Squire/ says he, in many things/ He 
then went into a full detail of our military system 
system of drill, etc. The officer got new ideas from his 
strange visitor, and remarked: I wish the Emperor 
could have a talk with you, as some of your views 
would suit him, I feel satisfied/ 

" Just what I want, Squire; our Minister here is 
a little backward about introducing me, but he is a 
Philadelphia!! and don t understand Massachusetts 
customs. We are a go-ahead people there, and don t 
stand upon ceremony, Squire/ 



118 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

" I think I can manage it ; but your costume 

" Exactly; our Minister who dresses so fine, and 
looks as if he had just came out of a bandbox, did look 
as if I was not the cheese/ 

"< Cheese ? 

" Yes, I mean the thing/ 

" I presume it is the fashion of your country? 

" No, not exactly, only a portion of it, and that 
portion is called e Down East/ " 

This description of the Yankee s interview was 
given to Mr. Dallas by the commandant, and as he 
spoke English fluently, he gave it almost verbatim. It 
was arranged that at the next visit of the Emperor to 
the school the Yankee was to be there, and at a given 
signal was to make his appearance. The interview 
was effected, and the Emperor became so interested 
with him that he took him along to the palace. 

When Mr. Forrest left St. Petersburg the Yankee 
was in high favor with the Emperor indeed, so much 
that a carriage was allotted him to visit places of in 
terest he had made a hit at the Court of St. Peters 
burg. In connection with this incident there is another 
which occurred while Mr. Dallas was Minister at this 
place. It is that of a Yankee who had an interview 
with the Emperor for the purpose of presenting him 
with an acorn which grew on an oak over the tomb of 
Washington. Whether this was the same individual 
or not we are unable to say. 

FORREST IN MOROCCO. 

Here we find him endeavoring to trace out from 
its mixed race who were its principal inhabitants ; the 
Berbers, the Amazigs, the Arabs, or the Mahomedans, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 119 

supposed to be the descendants of those who were 
driven from Spain in the fifteenth century. Mixed as 
the inhabitants are, with a large sprinkling of Jews, the 
dread of Emer-el-Moomeneen, Lord of the true believ 
ers, keeps them in fear and awe. This sovereign, or 
Sultan, possesses absolute power; from him proceed 
the laws the lives and properties of his subjects are at 
his disposal. 

Somehow Forrest tamed this mighty monarch we 
never learned how. They became friends, and during 
his sojourn at his court he was treated with marked 
attention. When he left he was presented with a 
splendid Arabian stallion. A portrait of this animal, 
painted by a French artist in Paris, has ever since 
hung in the art gallery of Mr. Forrest s mansion. Mr. 
Forrest gave me a very interesting account of how this 
artist came to paint this portrait for him. 

One day just as he came out of his hotel in Paris, a 
thinly-clad Frenchman addressed him: "Monsieur 
Forrest, I would speak one word with you. I saw your 
grand horse in the stable one fine animal beautiful. 
I am a painter of animals horses particularly. I 
would like to paint him for you." 

Forrest was struck with the appearance of the man, 
and deeming it an act of charity, he consented, and told 
the man to bring the picture to him when finished. 
Those who have seen this portrait of the horse pro 
nounce it, as we do, one of the most striking life-like 
representations of an animal that ever appeared on can 
vas. The name of this artist was told us, but it now 
escapes our memory. He subsequently, however, be 
came distinguished in Paris as one of the best animal 
painters of the day. 



120 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

FORREST IN ROME. 

"This old city," says a writer, "has a never-ending 
history. One may study the old Koman Kepublic in 
its ruins for years ; to master the remains of the Koman 
Empire requires a less time. A long period may be 
employed in unearthing the vestiges of medieval and 
the early Papal Home, and now in this latter day Korne 
promises us a new history, perhaps as interesting per 
haps as useful as the one of old." Two thousand years 
from the dawn of light to our day lie recorded on the 
stones and the dust of the noble city. 

How different is Kome now from what it was when 
the great actor walked through the halls of the Vati 
can ! The might of Kome then was in the kingly rule 
of the Pope. All powerful, both temporal as well as 
spiritual the one omniscience of Kome as the great 
Omnipotent is of Heaven and earth ; he made his in 
fallibility his sceptre, and his power his diadem. Such 
was the Pope when Forrest visited Kome. Let us go 
with him to 

THE VATICAN. 

The Vatican, the winter residence of the Pope, the 
largest palace in Europe, attracted much of Mr. For 
rest s attention. This splendid palace contains four 
thousand four hundred and twenty-two halls and gal 
leries, filled with the treasures of ancient and modern 
art. The library is one of the largest and richest in the 
world. The picture gallery, containing a collection 
which, though small in extent there being not more 
than fifty is unsurpassed in real value. This museum, 
consisting of a series of galleries in which the noblest 
treasures of art are contained, including, among other 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 121 

rare works, the Laocoon and Apollo Belvidere. Mr. 
Forrest spent several days here, examining, admiring, 
wondering, and at last realizing the fact that here, in 
deed, the gems of true art can be seen. One of the 
pictures we think it was " The Transfiguration," by 
Kaphael in the gallery alluded to, attracted his atten 
tion particularly. He asked a priest who had paid him 
marked attention, and who was also aware of his visi 
tor s profession, which made no difference in his man 
ner, if "there was any price attached to that picture?" 
The priest looked up in some surprise, saying : " Your 
State, Pennsylvania, is a rich State it has inexhaust 
ible coal and iron mines it has canals, railroads, and 
large cities numerous towns and villages, public 
buildings, colleges, and other institutions of learning 
rich in all that industry accumulates and munificence 
can furnish/ 

"Well," said Forrest, " Pennsylvania is a rich 
State, what of that ? " 

The priest replied, "It does not contain wealth 
enough to purchase that picture." 

" Indeed ! " exclaimed the astonished actor ; " then 
my dear sir, if Kome should ever become impoverished 
we will try to arrange with the State of Pennsylvania 
for its purchase." 

The priest looked up ; he saw at once the actor, like 
himself, was playing a part. Forrest was no great 
friend to priest-craft, nor had any sympathy with 
Catholics or their religion. 

CASTLE OF ST. ANGELO. 

On another occasion, in company with several gen 
tlemen, Forrest visited the castle of "St. Angelo." 



122 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEKEST. 

Originally it was called the Mausoleum of Hadrian, a 
rounded pyramid of white marble. For awhile they 
stood entranced, so much to see so much to admire 
and comment upon. All around them were the traces 
of former greatness. Home, with its majestic ruins 
Kome, in the solemn grandeur of its churches and pal 
aces Kome, with its endless treasures Borne, with 
its church of St. Peter s, built at the expense of the 
whole Koman world Kome, the glory of modern archi 
tecture loomed up before them. The Pantheon, the 
most splendid edifice of ancient Kome the Vatican, 
the palace of the Pope all these were more or less 
visible to the eye as they stood gazing in wonder and 
awe. 

In one of the pauses of their conversation a voice 
came up from behind a ruined column, bearing upon 
its surface the impress of ages, saying, "Mr. Forrest, 
have you been to see the ruins of the Coliseum ? " 

Forrest turned around at these words to see from 
whom they proceeded. There lying at full length 
on another pillar lay a young man, whom none of the 
party knew. He went on: " It is a splendid ruin, sir. 
They say it held one hundred thousand people." 

" You know me, it seems ? " said Forrest. 

" Know you ? Why certainly; don t you remem 
ber Delarue? I played Kichard III. at the Walnut 
Street Theatre, in imitation of Mr. Booth." 

" What ! you here ? Get up, man, and let me have 
a good look at you." 

Up jumped the eccentric individual, and as he 
stood before the group, he appeared a fac-similie of 
the great tragedian he could imitate so admirably. 

We remember Delarue well. Had his mind been 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 123 

as well balanced as were his powers of imitation, he 
would have been an actor of no common order. He 
was eccentric, and idle. How he ever reached Eome is 
still a mystery how he got away, we have every rea 
son to believe, was owing to the group who surrounded 
him on that occasion. 

IMarue made his first appearance on the stage at 
the Chestnut Street Theatre in 1827, as Sylvester Dag- 
gerwood, in which he gave imitations of the leading 
actors of the day with great fidelity. What became 
of him we know not. The last we heard of him. was in 
1852 ; he was then living in New York. 

Mr. Forrest s European tour will probably be found 
among his papers, written by himself. We know he 
had made notes of his travels, but, as he stated to us, 
they were simply memorandums. We have alluded, 
en passant, to many places he visited. His visit to 
the tomb of Shakespeare forms an important place in 
his notes, and connects him with the bard as one of his 
most ardent admirers and the representative of the im 
mortal heroes of the tragic muse ! Mr. Forrest met 
with some of the most gifted gentlemen of Europe, 
with whom he conversed and became their honored 
guest. He came home imbued with the spirit of poe 
try, romance and history. The drama appeared to him 
as the great link connecting the past with the present, 
in which the actor became the medium of conveying to 
the latter the likeness of the great men who flourished, 
died, and would have been forgotten, had it not been for 
the actor. His mind was enriched by foreign study 
and observation, and to the last hour of his life he had 
numerous anecdotes to relate and pleasing instances to 
record. 



124 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

If you spoke to him of Greece and Rome, their an 
cient history, and ruined grandeur, he would describe 
to you the temple of Theseus, and the glorious Parthe 
non, perched aloft on the rocky Acropolis. He would 
carry you away with him over the bridge beyond Ceph- 
isus, and down the high road into the shady walks of 
the grove of Academus, where Plato, the pupil of Soc 
rates, introduced his disciples, maintaining the immor 
tality of the soul. He would tell you of the altar of 
the Muses, whose votaries may in some degree be said 
to hallow literature with a divine sanction. Yonder 
to the east, near the Marathon road, he would point out 
to you on the map, the Cynosarges, or school of the 
cynic philosophers ; near the gate of the Pirseus is the 
Museum, a building dedicated to the liberal arts, and 
to the G-oddess whose name it bears. The superb struc 
ture to the left is the Odeum, beyond it is the Lyceum 
where Aristotle instructed his disciples. The build 
ing on the left of the Odeum is the Great Theatre, to 
which the Athenians nocked to weep at the tragedies 
of ^Eschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, to be convulsed 
with laughter at the farcical satires of Aristophanes, 
or to be delighted with the polished wit of the chaste 
and elegant Meander. 

To such a mind as that of Mr. Forrest s, were not 
these scenes now but the debris of former grandeur, 
sufficient to interest and impress upon it the glorious 
age wherever the classic Muses revelled as it were, in 
the Elysium of fabled gods ? 



CHAPTER X. 

FORREST S RETURN FROM HIS EUROPEAN TOUR. HIS 

RECEPTION. APPEARS AT THE CHESTNUT STREET 

THEATRE. SPEECH. PARK THEATRE, N. Y. FARE 
WELL ENGAGEMENT. IMMENSE SUCCESS. AD 
DRESSES THE AUDIENCE. HIS DEPARTURE. AP 
PEARANCE ON THE ENGLISH STAGE. KINDLY 

RECEIVED. PUBLIC DINNERS TENDERED HIM BY 

THE GARRICK CLUB ! PRESENTS, ETC. HIS MAR 
RIAGE. 

"A /TR. FORREST, as our readers are aware, did 
-L"- not appear upon the stage during his European 
pleasure tour, as it was distinctly understood before he 
left the country that it was not his intention to do so. 
But he made arrangements to play there in October 
of the year of his return home. 

CHESTNUT STREET THEATRE. 

Mr. Forrest s first appearance in Philadelphia, af 
ter his return from his delightful journey, was on 
Monday, September 5th, 1836. He opened at the 
Chestnut Street Theatre, with Damon, and probably 
since the days of Cooke a greater rush has not been 
known at our theatres. During his engagement the 
orchestra was thrown open and additional space given 
to the pit. As early as five o clock in the afternoon, 
the streets in the vicinity of the theatre began to ex- 

(125) 



126 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

hibit the gathering of the populace, and long before 
the hour of opening half-past six o clock the whole 
of Chestnut Street opposite to Old Drury was nearly 
a solid mass of human beings. The doors were opened 
with great caution, and much care was taken that no 
rush should be made ; but so anxious were the people 
without to gain admission into the theatre, that hun 
dreds became wedged together so immovably that they 
were obliged to stand and swelter with the patience of 
martyrs. Finally, they were admitted, only to make 
room for fresh crowds. Long before Damon appeared 
in character, the house was filled to overflowing, not 
a niche nor corner being vacant from pit to gallery. 
When Damon did appear, the pit and boxes rose as 
one man, and a roar of welcome, hoarse, loud and 
long, echoed through the theatre. Ladies waved their 
handkerchiefs, gentlemen their hats; indeed, to such 
an extent was this carried, that the Koman signifi 
cation of ovation could not apply to the reception 
Mr. Forrest met on this occasion. The actor bowed 
and bowed, until the act became a spectacle of dumb 
iteration. At last order was restored ; the play went 
on, and never did Forrest perform with more credit 
to the author of the play and himself. When the 
curtain fell, the calls for Forrest were loud and deafen 
ing; he appeared and bowed again, until the pit and 
boxes, which were alive with waving handkerchiefs, 
were stilled into a temporary calm. He said : 

" Ladies and gentlemen, for this warm peal of hearts 
and hands I have only strength to say, in my present ex 
hausted state, I thank you. It has served to convince 
me of the grateful truth that neither time nor distance 
has been able to alienate from me your kind regards. I 
aia unable to speak what I wish; but I can sincerely de 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 127 

clare that you make me proud this evening. And the re 
membrance of this cordial greeting, after no common 
absence given to me here, in this city of my birth and 
my affections shall go down with me, to my latest hour, 
as one of the happiest scenes of my professional life." 

On Tuesday, he played Othello, and Spartacus on 
Wednesday, which character he repeated on Thursday. 
On Friday evening he took his farewell benefit, play 
ing Spartacus. The house was literally crammed ; in 
deed, there was no diminution of numbers during his 
whole engagement. A considerable trade was carried 
on in tickets outside of the theatre, which had been 
obtained at the risk of broken limbs. 

He immediately repaired to New York, to finish an 
engagement there, and played every night up to the 
15th of September, to overwhelming houses. He re 
ceived $500 per night notwithstanding which the 
manager must have cleared $1000 each night. The New 
York Spirit of the Times said : "A raft of tickets 
were bought by a speculator for the few last per 
formances and sold at auction at fifty per cent, profit. 
Mr. Forrest has appeared as Damon, Othello, Spartacus, 
and Lear, and never to such manifest advantage. 
We have no doubt of his triumphant success in 
London as the first tragedian of the age." 

Mr. Forrest bade farewell to his countrymen at the 
Park Theatre, in Othello. The house was crowded to the 
ceiling, and would have been uncomfortably crammed 
with hundreds more, had not many been, fortunately for 
those who were present, deterred from coming by the 
advanced prices at which numbers of tickets were 
purchased on speculation, which led to the belief that 
there would be no room. Some of the box tickets 



128 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

were sold at auction, and brought the enormous price 
of twenty-five dollars each. Mr. Forrest s acting was 
powerful and finished. At the close he was called out, 
and addressed the audience in his usual felicitous man 
ner spoke of his being content to repose on the good 
opinion of his countrymen, but that the solicitations to 
appear at Covent Garden were too flattering not to 
comply with them, and which he wished more par 
ticularly, to accept, to show that he believed that an 
English audience will receive with a cordial welcome 
an American actor. " They will," cried an honest 
John Bull. " I m sure they will," replied Mr. Forrest, 
very happily. Thunders of applause followed. He 
alluded to the kind reception he had met with in his 
debut, when a youth, before a New York audience, in 
the part he had just performed ; spoke of the effect 
that this had had on his ambition, and that their ap 
probation had stamped him as an actor. He bade an 
affectionate farewell, and the audience, amidst the 
waving of handkerchiefs from the ladies, gave six 
heartfelt cheers in return. 

Mr. Forrest, in the speech, alluded to his appearing 
at Covent Garden. The following, from a London 
paper, explains the change made in this arrangement : 

MR. FORREST IK ENGLAND. 

"We were as convinced as of our political existence, that 
Mr. Willis Jones would have nothing whatever to do 
with Covent Garden Theatre. We stated this in the 
most positive manner on Sunday last, and we arc now 
enabled to confirm it. At the same time, when we pub 
lished this prediction, or rather assertion, we had no idea 
that Mr. Jones was intent upon having an interest in one 
or the other of the two large theatres, and certainly not 
that there was any likelihood of his vesting such interest 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 129 

in Drtiry Lane. The simple fact turns out that Bunn has 
completely jockeyed Osbaldiston, and has secured to him 
self one of the greatest cards that has lately been played 
in London. Mr. Willis Jones, having some time since 
entered into a compact with the celebrated American 
tragedian, Mr. Forrest, to produce him on one of the 
principal London theatres, together with the original 
plays in which he has made so great a hit in transatlantic 
lauds, has entered into an arrangement with Bunn for 
the use of Drury Lane Theatre for such purposes ; and 
in the event of Mr. Forrest making the hit in London 
which is so fully anticipated, Mr. Jones is empowered to 
have a given number of nights throughout the season for 
the purpose of exhibiting Mr. Forrest in the range of his 
principal characters. We do not know, and have no de 
sire to inquire into the pecuniary arrangements between 
Bunn and Willis Jones ; but we hear they are extremely 
liberal on both sides, and will no doubt end in ample 
remuneration to all parties concerned. 

" From every report we have heard, Mr. Forrest is a 
young man of most extraordinary abilities, and by the 
exercise of them has already, amassed a large fortune in 
his native country. He is stated to possess a noble figure, 
and considered one of the finest men that has ever ap 
peared on the stage, being gifted with a powerful mind 
and every possible requisite for his profession. The 
1 hiatus histrionicus, left by the death of Kean and the re 
tirement of Young, is therefore at length likely to be 
filled up, and the play-goer no longer be subjected to 
the tricky attempts or drowsy fulminations of the brace 
of bravoes who have lately been sickening him on the 
boards of Covent Garden." 

The following account of Mr. Forrest s appearance 
on the English stage, is from the London Chronicle of 
the 17th of October, 1836. 

" Mr. Edwin Forrest, the eminent American tragedian, 
whose first appearance, last evening, on the British stage 
(before one of the most crowded audiences ever assembled 
in any theatre), elicited those enthusiastic testimonials of 
success which have stamped him. one of the greatest actors 



130 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

that ever graced the English theatre, will, in consequence 
of the unbounded applause with which he was received 
in the new tragedy of the Gladiator, have the honor of re 
peating the character of Spartacus, three times every week 
until further notice. 

" When Mr. Forrest opened in England, at the Theatre 
Royal, Drury Lane, on the evening of October 17th, 1836, 
as an American actor in an American play, it was under 
circumstances particularly favorable. We had been puff 
ing third, fourth and fifth rate actors here, and sending 
them back loaded with gold; and it would have certainly 
been very strange if they, in return, prejudice aside, could 
not receive one favorably from this country. Indeed, his 
triumph was great ; and, as a matter of history, we furnish 
a few items attending his advent upon the British stage. 
The writer, after giving an account of the opening, etc., 
says : 

" On his entree, the whole house rose and gave him 
three times three. The applause lasted three or four min 
utes, and what, with hands and hearts, the waving of ker 
chiefs by the ladies and gentlemen in all the private boxes 
and the dress circles, and the spontaneous burst of enthusi 
asm, his reception was more nattering than his most san 
guine friends could have anticipated. On being called 
for at the close of the play, the applause was truly deaf 
ening. He repeats the character three times a week, until 
further notice. Victory sits perched upon his beaver, 
and he must and will support her without losing a single 
feather. " 

The play was Dr. Bird s Gladiator, which was not 
received, however, with the same warmth by the audi 
ence as was the actor. Another paper, speaking of the 
debut, says : 

" His reception was enthusiastic, and had he failed, he 
could not have attributed the misfortune to coldness of re 
ception. He was greeted from all parts of a very full 
house. He did not fail. He was eminently successful, and 
the impression produced by him in Spartacus, was such 
that we doubt whether the same character could be safely 
ventured upon by any other man now upon the stage, at 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 131 

least in presence of the audience which witnessed the per 
formance that night." 

Another says : 

" Mr. Forrest s reception on his arrival was the most 
flattering. He has been sought after by men whose kindly 
attention cannot be otherwise than gratifying to his pride, 
and the numerous acts of courtesy and hospitality be 
stowed upon him, were calculated speedily to remove the 
impression from his mind that he was a stranger in a 
strange land." 

We shall have occasion to speak more particularly 
of Mr. Forrest s reception in London, when we come to 
his third visit, and his second engagement. He star 
tled the "John Bulls" by his masterly delineations of 
Othello and Lear, and his Gladiator opened to their 
view in the drama s perspective another phase in 
classic literature. Charles Kean, that miserable speci 
men of English mendacity, jealous of Forrest s tri 
umphs, had attempted to lessen his fame by retailing 
his petty spite to the "penny-a-liners" of the London 
press. A correspondent of the New York Evening 
Star, writing home, said : 

"Forrest s success has been unprecedented. When I 
last wrote he had only appeared as Spartacus, and I 
doubted, to confess the truth, whether he had mind 
enough to play more intellectual characters. Charles Keau 
led me into the mistake, by speaking of Mr. Forrest as a 
giant one who could throw a man across the stage and 
I was led to think that he had more muscle than genius. 
But his Othello is considered the finest thing that was ever 
witnessed on the British stage. The Athenixum (no mean 
authority,) places it far above Kean s, (I mean the Kean, 
not the boy imitator,) and the Atlas, fastidious to a fault 
in dramatics and letters, says If we observe that, since the 
days of Kean, we have had no actor capable of approach 
ing his excellence, and that in many parts Mr. Forrest was 



132 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

equal, and in some few superior to that great tragedian, we 
shall have discharged all that we desire to say on that 
point. " 

One of their own critics said, in speaking of his 
Othello : 

" The first scene between Othello and lago was played 
by Mr. Forrest in a subdued tone, to which our actors have 
not accustomed us. Slow to suspect, Othello hovers over 
the abyss before he takes the fatal plunge. Mr. Forrest 
embodied this view of the opening of the temptation with 
great skill. Through the terrible scenes that follow he 
rose to a height of grandeur which places him at the head 
of living actors in England. In one particular passage he 
drew down an expression of admiration, such as we have 
seldom before witnessed in a London theatre. The passage 
to which we allude is that beginning or rather ending with 

" I had rather be a toad, 
And li ve upon the vapors of a dungeon, etc. 

" The look of ghastly horror with which the utterance of 
this passage was accompanied electrified the audience, who 
rising in all parts of the house, continued for several min 
utes to greet the performer with most enthusiastic ap 
plause." 

His King Lear was considered the best witnessed 
since the great Grarrick and Cooke had made it their 
speciality. 

These criticisms gave offence to the once prejudiced 
Englishmen, and laid the foundation for a determined 
opposition to everything that was calculated to pale 
the lustre of their own stars. Lesser ones had leave to 
shine greater ones must be put out. 

During this visit Mr. Forrest was not only highly 
honored, but for awhile became quite a lion in London. 

The Garrick club gave him a dinner, at which Ser 
geant Talfourd, the author of Ion, presided. From 
Charles Keinble and Stephen Price he received three 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 133 

swords, once severally the property of John Kemble, 
Kean, and Talma. An original portrait in oil, of Grar- 
rick, was presented to him, and his own, in the character 
of Macbeth in the dagger scene, was exhibited at the 
Somerset House. 

During this visit (1837) he married Miss Catharine 
Sinclair, daughter of John Sinclair, the well known vo 
calist. Had the tragedian foreseen the cloud that was 
to darken his latter days beyond the fair vision that 
stood blushing beside him at the altar, he would have 
hesitated even there. But all was sunshine then, and 
the future to him was a sealed book. Better, far better 
would it have been had he won the Swiss maiden who 
crossed his path on one of the mountain slopes of that 
fair land, instead of the beautiful and accomplished 
daughter of England ! But 

" There s a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rou<?h hew them how we will." 



CHAPTER XI. 

OTHELLO. ITS ORIGINAL PLOT. NOTED ACTORS IN 

THE PART. FIRST OTHELLO IN THIS COUNTRY. 

MR. FORREST S CONCEPTION OF THE CHARACTER. 

SIGNOR SALVINI COMPARED WITH FORREST. AN 
ITALIAN VERSION. 

IN the last chapter we left Mr. Forrest enjoying all 
the honors heaped upon him by a people s unbi 
assed opinion of his histrionic abilities, and having 
also taken a part in a comedy entitled The Honey 
moon, to conclude with the play of The Stranger, in 



134 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

which the lady was accused of playing Mrs. Haller in 
private life. Leaving Mr. Forrest for a while in his 
domestic difficulties, acting a part so entirely out of 
his line, we will speak further of him in tragedy the 
tragedy of the "mimic stage" of life, in which his 
nohle nature in the character of the Moor found the 
counterpart of Consuelo in the character of lago. 

OTHELLO. 

Giovanni Giralda Cynthio s Hecatommithi contains 
the original story of this tragedy, but no English ver 
sion of the work of the time of Shakespeare has yet 
been discovered, though an imperfect French transla 
tion, by Grabriel Chappuys, was published at Paris in 
1584. Malone originally assigned 1611, Chaining, 
1614, and Dr. Drake, 1612, as the date of the compo 
sition of this tragedy. Malone subsequently altered 
his time to 1604, affirming that the play was acted 
that year. 

Vertue s MSS. shows, however, that it was performed 
at court before James I., 1613, but it is supposed that 
Shakespeare derived Othello s simile of the never-ebb 
ing current of the Pontick Sea, Act III., Scene 3, from 
Dr. Philomon Holland s translation of Pliny s Natural 
History, London, 1601, folio book II., Chapter 97. 

Othello was entered at Stationers Hall, October 
16th, 1621, and appeared in quarto in the year follow 
ing, but there are many minute differences between this 
edition and the folio of 1623. 

For the first act of this play the scene lies in Venice, 
but during the remainder at a seaport in the Isle of 
Cyprus, and a few days appeared to include all the 
action. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 135 

For the historical period, Solyman II. formed his 
design against Cyprus in 1569, and captured it in 1571, 
which being the only attempt that the Turks ever 
made upon the Island after it came into the Venetian 
powers in 1473, the circumstances must be placed in 
some part of the interval. 

The play relates Act I., Scene 3 that there was 
a junction of the Turkish fleet at Khodes, for the inva 
sion of Cyprus, to which it was first sailing ; then it 
returned to Rhodes ; and then, meeting another squad 
ron, resumed its way to Cyprus. The real date, there 
fore, is May 1570, when Mustapha, the general of Soly 
man, attacked the Island. 

This tragedy was originally performed at the Globe 
and Black-Friars Theatres, Othello and lago being 
played by Burbage and Taylor. Spranger Barry is 
said to have made the finest Moor on the stage ; and 
he was also admirably supported by his wife, formerly 
Mrs. Dancer, whom he taught to perform Desdemona. 
The other most eminent actors in the principal parts 
have been Betterton, Booth, Garrick, Henderson, Cooke, 
Young and Kean ; and Mr. C. Kemble as Cassio. 
The modern alteration of Othello was produced by J. 
P. Kemble, at Covent Garden in 1804, for which house 
Mr. J. E. Planche published a series of accurate histor 
ical costumes in 1825. 

The first performances of Othello in this country 
was at the " Theatre" in Nassau street, New York, De 
cember 23rd, 1751 ; Othello, Mr. Upton. This man was 
an Englishman, and the treacherous agent of Hallam, 
who had sent him over from London in advance, to 
make arrangements for the company. He cheated his 
employers, and endeavored to palm himself off as an 



136 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

actor, but failed most signally. Its second representa 
tion was on the llth of April, 1767, at the John 
Street Theatre, New York. Othello, Mr. Douglass; 
Desdemona, Miss Cheer. 

Othello, like Lear, seems to have been studiously 
avoided by the pioneers of the drama in this country. 
Mr. John Henry was the first great representative in 
the part, although not the first who essayed it. Dun- 
lap says : " Mr. Henry was full six feet in height, and 
had been uncommonly handsome. He played Othello 
better, we believe, than any man had done before him 
in America." It is also recorded of him that he wore 
the uniform of a British officer, his face black and hair 
woolly. This must not appear strange, however im 
proper, for Dunlap says : " When the writer saw John 
Kemble, in 1786, play the Moor, he wore a suit of 
modern military of scarlet and gold lace coat, waist 
coat and breeches. He wore white silk stockings, his 
face was black, and his hair long and black, cued in the 
military fashion of the day." 

Heretofore it has been an invariable custom to 
dress him as an Ottomite. The custom of Venice 
should be preserved in all its details. Painters, de 
signers and actors have differed from one another very 
widely in relation to the costume of Othello. There 
can be but one opinion upon this point, for Vicillo, a 
contemporary of Shakespeare, describes the dress of the 
Venetian General, as follows : " Gown of crimson velvet, 
with loose sleeves, over which was a mantle cloth of 
gold, buttoned over the shoulder, with massive gold but 
tons. His cap was of crimson velvet, and he bore a 
silver baton, like those which are still the official des 
ignations of the field marshals of Europe." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 137 

Othello, according to Venetian laws, predicated on 
motives of policy, could not hold this office unless he 
was a Christian by profession ; he must have assumed 
the appropriate costume as much as if he had been a 
Frenchman, a German or a Neapolitan. Would the 
Catholic Church, at that period paramount in all things, 
have permitted a turbaned Turk, an Ottomite, to lead 
their armies ? Would Christian knights and gentle 
men, jealous of their honor and religion, have served 
under a Mahommedan ? Othello himself says : 

" Are wo turned Turks, and to ourselves do that 
Which Heaven hath forbid the Ottomites ? 
For Christian shame ! " 

In Aleppo once 



Where a malignant and turban d Turk 

Beat a Venetian, 

I took by the throat," etc. 

James Fennell, when he came to this country in 
1793, brought with him the reputation of being the 
best Othello on the English stage. Cooper, Conway, 
and in fact the most eminent tragedians of the day, 
made it one of their studies. As regards the dressing 
of the part, and the color of Othello s skin, there can 
not be a question of doubt if the author is strictly ad 
hered to. Othello was unquestionably one of the most 
noble and accomplished of the negro race. Such Shake 
speare makes him ; and all the saponaceous compounds 
that ever emanated from a " critic s brain" cannot wash 
that color out. If the Moor had been one of the proud 
race of the Ommacides, and the Abbasides, as is con 
tended, it would not have affected his social position or 
debarred him from being received on a social footing 
with the proudest of the Venetian republic. But such 
was not the case, as the very language and words of 



138 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

Shakespeare prove. Messrs. Fennell> Henry, Cooper, 
Conway, and others of lesser note, up to a certain 
period, painted him black. Subsequently, more from 
local causes than a critical analysis of the character, 
the color of Othello s skin was changed to that of the 
Mulatto, or rather the Quadroon. Mr. Forrest con 
formed to the "custom of the country," and made him 
one of the mixed breed. Mr. Forrest s Othello was, 
however, a living portraiture of the noble Moor s mind, 
power and intellect ; it was grand in conception and 
powerful in rendition. Gradually from the excess of 
his love gradually to the first instillation of lago s 
poison into his brain does Othello rise up grandly 
before us. From the moment, a flash, as if it were 
from hell, darts across his mind, revealing as he im 
agines the guilt of Desdemona, he becomes the incarna 
tion of that 

G-reen-eyed monster 



Which doth make the meat it feeds on." 

He towers in crime, he grasps the reins of passion and 
drives on furiously to his own destruction ! 

Othello is a character that chiefly depends upon the 
actor to invest it with a living truth, for it "lays siege" 
to the bosom, while Kichard and Macbeth, to the head. 
The first agitates, softens and subdues the heart ; the 
others elevate and astonish the imagination. Thomas 
A. Cooper and Edwin Forrest were the only two actors 
whose impersonations of these three characters struck 
us as being truthful to nature and art. 

Mr. Forrest s great forte in tragedy was his forcible 
delineation of the deep and terrible passions of the soul, 
and perhaps of this, Othello affords the most striking 
illustration. His exhibition of what was majestic and 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 13Q 

beautiful in sentiment, when connected with the 
powerful influences exercised by feeling, were always 
considered by critics as being impossible for any one 
to equal. He stood alone the "noblest Koman of 
them all." 

In his Othello we recognized the great master of 
the histrionic art. No man not even the great Kean 
himself, or the cold, mechanical Macready ever uttered 
these words as Mr. Forrest did, conveying in the fullest 
manner to the audience the great mental strife going 
on within. His form drooping, limbs powerless, reason 
palsied, he seemed as if life itself was going out with 
each word : 

; ! now, forever, 



Farewell the tranquil mind ! farewell content ! 
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big 1 wars 
That make ambition virtue ! O ! farewell ! 
Farewell the neighing steed, and the shrill trump, 
The spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife, 



Pride, pomp, and circumstances of glorious war ! 
* -* # # * * * 

Othello s occupation s gone." 

Our readers will remember how Mr. Forrest ren 
dered that terrible passage : 

I had rather be a toad, 



And live upon the vapor of a dungeon," etc. 

Forrest, in delineating the various passions which 
agitate and excite the jealous Moor, has had no equal ; 
indeed, few actors possess the physical and mental pow 
ers so happily blended, as did this great artist, so as to 
enable them to give full force to language requiring the 
highest order of genius and talent, as well as the mas 
terly touches of true genius combined the only two 



140 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

qualities calculated to make a great actor. All others 
have failed. During Mr. Forrest s first visit to Eng 
land, professionally, his Othello was the subject of 
much comment. The John Bulls could not bring 
themselves to believe that an American actor could 
achieve a triumph over a Kean and a Macready. Jeal 
ousy came very near depriving Mr. Forrest of an oppor 
tunity of achieving this triumph. The critic of the 
London Morning Herald, in October, 1836, speaking of 
Mr. Forrest s Othello, says : " From this moment the 
actor was determined not to lose hold of the minds of 
the audience, and duly kept his hold. When a convic 
tion of the guilt of Desdemona first came full upon him, 
and he exclaims, ( I had rather be a toad ! his emotion 
and gesticulation were absolutely terrific, though 
neither coarse nor overacted. Here (and we are aware 
of the hazardous assertion) Mr. Forrest really appear 
ed to leave behind him the best Othello of them all. 
Three distinct rounds of applause rewarded his success 
ful exertion." 

In the address to the Senate, Mr. Forrest gave two 
new readings, which have been adopted as the standard, 
being in conformity to the true meaning of the author. 
We do not give them as of sufficient importance to 
elicit criticism, but simply to show the care and atten 
tion he bestowed on the text of his favorite author. 
For example : 

" Rude am I in my speech, 

And little bless d with the set phrase of peace ; 
For since these arms of mine had seven years pith, 
Till now, some nine moons wasted, they have us d 
Their dearest action in the tented field ; 
And little of this great world can I speak 
More than pertains to feats of broil and battle ; 
And, therefore, little shall I grace my cause 
In speaking for myself." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 141 

We do not recollect an instance in which this was 
not read : 

" In speaking for myself" 

The other reading was of still greater importance. 
It is in the passage where he describes the anxiety with 
which Desdemona used to listen to his recitals : 

" She d come again, and with, a greedy ear 
Devour up my discourse, which I observing, 
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means 
To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart," etc. 

In connection with the tragedy of Othello, there is 
an interpolation of six lines in the speech of Othello 
before the Senate, which have perplexed the critics and 
actors considerably. They take the place of those 
extravagant lines, commencing with 



and 



; And portance in my travel s history, 
Wherein of aiitres vast, and deserts idle, 
Bough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch heaven," 



The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders," etc. 



Such sights as described by Othello fully sustain 
lago s remark that Othello won his bride by telling 
fantastical lines. All these are omitted, and the fol 
lowing most happily substituted : 

" Of battles bravely, hardly fought ; of victories 
For which the conqueror mourned, 
So many fell. Sometimes I told 
The story of a siege in which I had to combat 
Plague and famine ; soldiers unpaid, 
Fearful to fight, but bold in dangerous mutiny." 

In a prompt-book of Covent Garden, not printed 
in the text, but interwritten upon a blank leaf, these 
lines, it is said, were first discovered. We have a copy 



142 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

of Othello, wherein they are to be found as given above. 
The play has the following title : 

OTHELLO, 
A Tragedy, by Shakespeare, 

As performed at tJie 

THEATRE ROYAL, DRURY LANE, 
Regulated from the Prompt-Book, 

WITH PERMISSION OF THE MANAGERS, 

By Mr. Hopkins, Prompter. 

An INTRODUCTION and NOTES, 

Critical and Illustrative, 

Are added "by the 
AUTHORS OF THE DRAMATIC CENSOR, 

London. 

Printed for John Bell, near Exeter Exchange, 

In the Strand, 

MDCCLXXVII. 



SALVINI. 

An Italian artist, by the name of Salvini, with an 
Italian company, recently arrived in this country, 
and his Othello has been said by critics to be superior 
to that of Mr. Forrest s. We admit the talents of this 
Italian, and that of his company, but cannot endorse 
him as being the Othello of the world ! Our opinion 
of him we give here in connection with the great 
tragedy : 

The Italian stage and actors are but little known 
to us, although the history of their drama dates back 
to a very early period. After the extinction of the 
Latin Theatres, the Italian drama degenerated into 
vulgarity and its profession strolled from town to 
town. It languished thus, until the twelfth century, 
when it gradually recovered its vigor and admitted the 
embellishment of dialogue. Then came a lapse of 
years, during which the Italian stage, and the drama, 
were lost sight of by the people. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 143 

The Academy of Sienna was the first body of per 
sons who set the example of composing and represent 
ing correct comedies. In the seventeenth century the 
hired actors, who until that period had acted extem 
pore, were known as improvisatori, now performed any 
piece which had not been previously printed. This 
was the commencement of the legitimate drama in 
Italy, which was subsequently enhanced by the trans 
lation of the Plays of Shakespeare. These gave a 
somewhat different tone and character to their tragedies. 

Salvini is a specimen of the Italian and Shakespeare 
schools combined. His conception of the character is in 
the main correct, but in carrying it out he overacts, or 
rather, we should say, gives it an Italian coloring. In 
the First Act, where Othello shows the most love, 
he was not quite up to the standard of an impassioned 
lover. He did not show that warmth of love for Des- 
demona which so distinguished Mr. Forrest in the part, 
but in the bursts of passion his every outbreak re 
minded us of that gentleman. Exaggeration in the 
impassioned scenes of the drama is not at all times con 
sidered a fault, as for instance in King Lear, Virginius, 
Damon, and Othello, the actor is justified in stretching 
the power of declamation to its climax. 

The Third Act, which has always been considered 
the test of an actor s ability, was one grand display of 
the histrionic art, and never surpassed, within our rec 
ollection, but by one man, and that one, the great 
Othello of the American stage: 

EDWIN FORREST. 

In this act, and in fact throughout the Fourth and 
Fifth, he bore such a striking likeness to this gentle- 



144 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

man, both in voice and in action, that it seemed as if 
the spirit of the great actor, now in Heaven, was pres 
ent on this occasion. The genius of Shakespeare 
dwells with but few actors, and when it does fire the 
soul, it makes such actors as Cooke, Cooper, Kean, 
Conway, the elder Booth, Edwin Forrest and SALVINI. 

We have spoken of the actor generally, there are 
however one or two points in his acting which marred 
the harmony as a perfect whole. The first is the sav 
age treatment he inflicts upon lago. Jealousy, we ad 
mit, is a strong passion, but it seldom shows itself on 
the advise of another s dishonor. Forrest s manner was 
not of the tiger kind, Salvini s is, for he not only 
dashes lago to the ground, but it seemed to us that 
he kicked him when doivn. 

In the last interview with Desdemona he seemed 
like a tiger weaving across his cage, he ranges to and 
fro along the furthest limits of the stage, now stealing 
away from her with long strides and avoiding her ap 
proaches, and now turning fiercely round upon her and 
rolling his black eyes, by turns agitated by irresolution, 
touched by tenderness, or goading himself into rage, 
until, at last, like a storm, he seizes her and bears her 
away to her death. After the deed has been accom 
plished, what can exceed the horror of his ghastly 
face, as he looks out between the curtains, which he 
gathers about him when he hears Emilia s knock or 
the anguish and remorse of that wild, terrible cry, as 
he leans over her dead body after he knows her inno 
cence, or the savage rage of that sudden scream with 
which he leaps upon lago. 

To this we may add, as not being Shakesperian 
nor soldier like, the cutting his throat with a sort of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 145 

butcher s knife. It is not a refined method of dying, 
nor is it consistent with the noble bearing of Othello, 
who exclaimed even in the moment of wild excitement: 
" Behold ! I have a weapon," and then when he says, 
in a more subdued, yet equally determined manner, 
bent on the act of suicide, "I took by the throat the 
circumcised dog, and smote him thus " 

In the original copy of Othello, following the words 
"smote him thus," we find this in brackets [stabs him 
self]. Salvini adopts the butcher s mode, and not that 
of the more refined method of making his quietus. 

Again, as Othello has to speak after the deed, we 
question if he would be enabled to do so with a " slit 
wizzen." The words he has to say are these : 

" I kiss d thee, ere I kill d thee : no way but this,. 
Killing myself to die upon a kiss. " 



CHAPTEK XII. 

FORREST RETURNS HOME WITH HIS BRIDE. HIS RECEP 
TION. GRAND DINNER. HIS OLD FRIENDS AROUND 
HIM. JOHN SWIFT, MORTON MOMICHAEL, LOUIS A. 
GODEY, ETC. 

"IV/TR. FORREST, accompanied by his wife, arrived 
-*-*-*- home in 1837. Perhaps no married couple ever 
approached our shores upon whose countenances there 
glowed the light of love more bright, and upon the 
brow of one. a more brilliant wreath of fame never en 
twined its laurelled leaves. Little did he think then, 
9 



146 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

with his smiling bride beside him, that in time a 
dark cloud was to darken their future happiness. 
Little did he dream that years of misery were to 
follow this marriage, and that his fame and fortune 
were to.be imperilled by it. But the die was cast, con 
fidence destroyed, and man and wife parted forever ! 

Immediately on his return, he began an engagement 
at the Park Theatre, New York, where he achieved a 
triumph unequalled in stage history. The receipts for 
the first night exceeded four thousand dollars ! 

OLD DRURY, CHESTNUT STREET. 

This theatre opened for the fall season on the 18th 
of August, 1837, with " Every One has His Fault." 
The stars announced, were Edwin Forrest, the elder 
Vandenhoif, Hackett, Jim Crow Eice, Ellen Tree, 
Charles Horn, Bedouin Arabs, Miss Horton, Mr. 
Brough, and Mr. and Mrs. Wood, vocalists. 

On the 15th of November, 1837, Mr. Forrest ap 
peared as Othello, Mr. E. S. Connor playing lago ; on 
the 27th, Broker of Bogota ; and for one month con 
tinued to fill the theatre, closing a very brilliant en 
gagement, the first and only one of the kind at the 
Chestnut Street Theatre ; over the head of all the bril 
liant stars named above, Forrest, and Forrest only, was 
the card. Miss Turpin and Miss Clifton closed the 
year 1837. 

The friends of Mr. Forrest, who felt as if his tri 
umph in England was a compliment to our country, 
and a homage the British nation paid to American 
talent, tendered him a public dinner. On the 15th of 
December, 1837, this event took place at the Merchant ? 
Hotel, North Fourth street, above Market. On thai 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 147 

day about two hundred gentlemen, including many of 
the most eminent of our fellow-citizens, and a number 
of distinguished strangers, sat down to a sumptuous 
dinner, prepared by Mr. Sanderson. The following 
named gentlemen had been previously appointed offi 
cers, viz : 

President. NICHOLAS BIDDLE. 

Vice-Preside7its. 

HON. Jos. R. INGERSOLL, HON. JOHN SWIFT, 

DR. SAMUEL JACKSON, COL. JAMES PAGE, 

COL. JOHN P. WETHERILL, WM. D. LEWIS, Esq. 

Stewards. 

MORTON MMICHAEL, WM. H. HART, 

R. T. CONRAD, F. A. HUBER, 

C. INGERSOLL, N. C. FOSTER, 

R. PENN SMITH, JAMES GOODMAN, 

THOS. HART, ADAM WOELPPER, 

ROBERT MORRIS. 

Among the invited guests were several members of 
the press, and of the dramatic profession William 
B. Wood, K. C. Maywood, E. S. Connor, F. C. 
Wemyss, Charles Porter, and others. 

In consequence of severe indisposition, Mr. Biddle 
was unable to attend, and he addressed the following 
note to one of the committee of arrangements. 

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 15th, 1837. 
"Hox. ROBERT T. CONRAD. 

"My DEAR SIR : I regret much that indisposition will 
prevent me from joining your festival to-day. Feeling, as I 
do, an intense nationality, which makes the fame of every 
citizen the common property of the country, I rejoice at 
all the developments of intellectual power among our 
countrymen in every walk of life, and I am always anxious 
to do honor to high faculties combined with personal 
worth. Such a union the common voice ascribes to Mr. 
Forrest, and I would have gladly added my own ap 
plause to the general homage. But this is impracticable 
now, and I can therefore only convey through you a senti- 



148 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ment which, if it wants the vigorous expression of health, 
has at least a sick man s sincerity. It is : 

"The genius of our country, whenever and wherever 
displayed honor to its triumphs in every field of fame. 
" With great regard, yours, 

"NICHOLAS BIDDLE." 

At five o clock the company sat down to the table, 
which occupied the whole of the spacious dining hall, 
the HON. JOSEPH K. INGERSOLL being in the chair. 
Mr. Forrest, the guest of the day, was placed at his 
right ; and on his left were Chief- Justice Gibson, 
Judge Kogers of the Supreme Court, Kecorder Kobert 
T. Conrad, and other judicial officers. Many gentlemen 
of high literary distinction were present. Messrs. 
Dunlop, Banks, Bell, Doran, and other members of 
the Convention, then sitting in the city, to revise the 
Constitution of the State, were at the table; among 
the professional persons who joined in the festivity, 
we particularly noticed Dr. Jackson, of the University 
of Pennsylvania, Professor Mitchell, and Dr. Colhoun, 
the Dean of Jefferson College. Mr. Leggett, of New 
York, the early friend of Mr. Forrest, was present by 
invitation. 

After the cloth was removed, many speeches were 
made, and among those who spoke at length, were Col. 
John Swift, James Page, and Joseph K. Chandler. 
The latter, in the course of his remarks, made allusion 
to Jack Cade and Caius Marius, and concluded by offer 
ing the health of the Kecorder of the city, Robert T. 
Conrad, to which that gentleman replied as follows 

" To those who are acquainted with the gentleman who 
has just taken his seat, no act of generosity or kindness 
coming from him can be wholly unexpected. I will not, 
therefore, plead, in extenuation of my inability to return a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 149 

suitable acknowledgment, the surprise which his flattering 
reference to me, and the still more flattering manner in 
which that reference was received, have excited. I may, 
however, regret that the excess of his kindness deprives 
me of the power of speaking the gratitude which it inspires 
a gratitude which is only rendered more profound by a 
reference to our home literature. The press has domesti 
cated it in the poor man s cottage, and made it with 
all its holy and humanizing influences, universal as the 
rains of spring, or the sun of summer. To be, or to 
have been, connected with an agent so mighty and 
beneficent, is no slight honor. The first minds of the age 
have been associated with the press. Several of the 
choicest spirits around this board have labored in that 
field ; and, if I do not err, the gentleman who is prevented 
by illness from presiding here to-day, "our absent Banquo" 
the accomplished Biddle, was, at one time, connected 
with the periodical press. Of the profession, as now con 
stituted in this country, I do not hesitate to affirm, that it 
comprises an almost unrivalled amount of genius and public 
spirit thousands of gifted men, whose minds flow through 
society, like rills through the meadow 

That, with a livelier green, 



Betrays the secret of their silent course. 

" The gentleman who called me up is, himself, an in 
stance of the truth of this remark one who would adorn 
and illustrate any walk of public life, however arduous or 
however elevated. In our own city, the corps is composed 
of men who would do honor to any community men as 
enlightened and liberal, as high-minded and warm-hearted 
as any in the land. Their craft has been considered, by 
some, an ungentle one, and many have regarded editors as 
a species of intellectual gladiators, who cut and hack each 
other "* for the diversion of Romans : but in this city, at 
least, such is not the fact; for, while they have won the 
confidence and applause of the public, they have done what 
is more difficult and more honorable they have main 
tained feelings of almost fraternal kindness for each other. 
It is to be wished that such were the spirit of the press 
everywhere. The priests who minister in the great tem 
ple of knowledge are, or ought to be, always and every 
where, brothers. 



150 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

"I would be proud to bear this testimony in favor of 
the press at any time ; but I do it the more eagerly on the 
present occasion, as I see at this board a valued and esti 
mable member of the press, from whom I venture to hope 
for a response. His station would do honor to any man 
the man would reflect honor on any station. No one has 
done more to cultivate the elevated, refined, or friendly 
spirit that characterizes the Philadelphia press no one has 
directed the energies of that press to the accomplishment 
of milder or nobler purposes. In such hands the giant 
power of the press will always be safe its influences bene 
ficent its triumphs stainless victoria sine glade. I have 
only to add the hope that he may long continue to grace 
the councils of the city and the State, and, for many and 
many a year to come, give us each day the daily bread of 
the mind. I tender as a sentiment, 

" RICHARD PENN SMITH, whose early connection with 
the public press of our city was the precursor of its present 
Buccess whose accomplishment as a scholar, whose talents 
as a writer, are made more attractive by his attachment 
as a friend, his feelings as a man, and his courtesy as a 
gentleman. " 

In reply, Mr. Smith arose and said : 

"MR. PRESIDENT: I find myself in the position of 
the needy knife grinder Story! God bless you! I have 
none to tell, sir. You, sir, are an experienced member of 
the Philadelphia bar, and consequently cannot imagine how 
hard it is to make a speech after the pointed and eloquent 
addresses that have just been made ; but, sir, you have also 
been a member of Congress, and can fully understand how 
hard it is to listen to a succession of speeches without 
relief or interruption. The repetition of the words how 
hard reminds me of a benevolent being who visited the 
principal penitentiaries of Europe for the purpose of alle 
viating the condition of their distressed inmates. I at pres 
ent feel myself in the position of a prisoner, and the most 
feasible escape that occurs is to call upon my friend, the 
benevolent Howard, to relieve me from my difficulties and 
cheer me with a song." 

The President called upon Brough and Howard for 
a duett ; which was given. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FO1UIEST. 

After the song, Mr. Smith responded to the compli 
ment contained in Mr. Chandler s address, and said, 
that he must confess himself a genuine Yankee in his 
literary pursuits, for he had commenced business in 
various branches, but had been constant to none. As 
a newspaper editor, he had his day a stormy one, 
without a ray of sunshine. As a novelist, his produc 
tions were Forsaken, and somewhat Deformed ; but the 
organ of philoprogenitiveness was so strongly devel 
oped, that they were never Disoivned. Mr. Smith here 
paid a just tribute to the talents of Irving, Cooper, Ken 
nedy, Sedgwick, and other distinguished novelists of 
the day. He touched upon his career as a dramatist, 
and begged permission to speak in kindly terms of his 
productions, as the Roman adage fully applied to them 
de mortuis nil nisi bonum. He referred with pleas 
ure to his intercourse with Mr. Forrest, for whom he 
wrote his tragedy entitled Caius Marius, but regret 
ted that even the transcendant talents of his friend 
could not save his hero from perishing among the ruins 
of Carthage. 

Mr. Smith, in speaking of the American drama, said, 
that on such an occasion, it would be unpardonable to 
overlook one who stood foremost in the ranks of our 
dramatic writers. A gentleman who had distinguished 
himself by his various talents as an artist and an 
author ; and whose dramatic works would ultimately 
secure him an enviable fame. He regretted that age, 
and the inclement season, prevented his participation 
in the festivities of the occasion. He referred to Wil 
liam Dunlap, of New York. Mr. Smith read the follow 
ing letter : 



152 LIFE OF EDWIN FOIIEEST. 

"NEW YORK, December llth, 1837. 

" GENTLEMEN : I received on the evening of the 9th in 
stant, your polite letter, doing me the honor of requesting 
my presence at a public dinner to be given to Edwin For 
rest on the 15th instant. Nothing but the progress of 
winter, which I see around me, and feel within, could pre 
vent my testifying in person how highly I appreciate the 
invitation of the committee and the gentleman to whom 
the public mark of esteem is to be given. Permit me to 
offer a toast : 

" The American Actor, who both in public and private 
life upholds the honor of his country : Edwin Forrest. 

" WILLIAM DUKLAP." 

Mr. President, said Mr. Smith, I will offer you a 
toast which, I have no doubt will be cordially respond 
ed to. 

" WILLIAM DTJKLAP. The Nestor of the American 
Drama. May he live to see the edifice become what his 
foundation promised." 

Now commenced the crowning scene of the evening. 
Chief-Justice Gibson rose in his place, and said : 

"The friends of the drama are desirous of paying a 
merited tribute of respect and esteem to one of the most 
distinguished and successful of its sons. Well approved 
usage, upon occasions not dissimilar, has pointed to this 
our cheerful greeting as a fitting method for carrying their 
desires into effect. It combines the compliment of public 
and unequivocal demonstration with the kindness and cor 
diality of social intercourse. It serves to express at once 
opinions the result of deliberate judgment, and sentiments 
warm and faithful from the heart. 

" To our guest we owe much for having devoted to the 
profession which he has selected an uncommon energy of 
character and peculiar personal aptitudes. They are both 
adapted to the happiest illustrations of an art, which in the 
absence of either would want a finished representative; 
but by a rare combination of faculties in him, he is enabled 
effectually to hold the mirror up to Nature. It is an art, 
in the rational pleasures and substantial advantages derived 
from which, all are free to participate, and a large proper- 



LIFE OF EDAVIN FORREST. 153 

tion of the educated and liberal minded avail themselves of 
the privilege an art which for thousands of years has 
been practised with success, admired and esteemed; and 
the men who have adorned it by their talents have received 
the well-earned plaudits of their age, and the honors of a 
cherished name. 

" To our guest we owe especial thanks that he has been 
a prompt, uniform and liberal patron of his art. Dramatic 
genius and merit have never appealed to him for aid in 
vain. lie has devoted the best directed generosity, and 
some of his most brilliant professional efforts, to their 
cause. 

" To our guest we owe unmeasured thanks that he has 
done much by his personal exertion, study and example, to 
identify our stage with the classic drama, and that he has 
made the more than modern ^Eschylus, the myriad-minded 
Shakespeare, ours. 

" We owe him thanks, as members of a well-regulated 
community, that by the course and current of his domestic 
life, the reproaches that are sometimes cast upon his profes 
sion have been signally disarmed. And in this moment of 
joyous festivity, we feel that we owe him unnumbered 
thanks, that he has offered us an opportunity to express for 
him an unfeigned and cordial regard. These sentiments 
are embraced in a brief but comprehensive toast, which I 
will ask leave to offer , The stage (and then turning to 
Mr. Forrest) and its Master. " 

A peal of three-times-three followed the speech and 
sentiment, after which Mr. Forrest, rising, with great 
power and effect, returned his thanks in an able and 
appropriate address, which was made with good discre 
tion. His delivery was natural, forcible and unaffected ; 
and in many passages, all who heard him were moved 
to tears. At the allusion to his earliest and best friend, 
Col. John Swift, the Mayor of the city, the whole 
company rose, and, by a common impulse, gave six 
good cheers. Mr. Forrest said : 

"MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN: I feel too deep 
ly the honor this day rendered me, to be able to express 



154 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

myself in terms of adequate meaning. There are timos 
when the tongue is at best a poor interpreter of the heart. 
The strongest emotions do not always clothe themselves in 
the strongest language. The words which rise to my lips 
seem too cold and vapid to denote truly the sentiments 
which prompt them ; they lack that terseness and energy 
which the occasion deserves. 

"The actor usually comes before the public in a fic 
tion, in a dream of passion, and his aim is to suit his utter 
ance and the havior of the visage to the unreal situation. 
But the resources of my art do not avail me here. This is 
no pageant of the stage, to be forgotten with the hour, nor 
this an audience drawn to view its mimic scenes. I stand 
amidst a numerous throng of the chiefest denizens of my 
native city, convened to do me honor ; and this costly ban 
quet they present to me, a magnificent token of their 
regard. I feel, indeed, that I am no actor here. My bosom 
throbs with un dissembled agitation, and in the grateful 
tumult of my thoughts I cannot beget a temperance to 
give smoothness to my acknowledgments for so proud a 
tribute. In the simplest form of speech, then, let me assure 
you, from my inmost heart I thank you. 

" I have but recently returned from England, after per 
forming many nights on those boards where the master 
spirits of the stage achieved their noblest triumphs. You 
have heard from other sources with what kindness I was 
received, and with what bounteous applause my efforts 
were rewarded. Throughout my sojourn abroad, I experi 
enced only the most candid and liberal treatment from the 
public, and the most elegant and cordial hospitality in pri 
vate. But I rejoice that the time has come round which 
brings me again to the point from which I started, which 
places me among those friends whose partial kindness dis 
covered the first unfoldings of my mind, and watched it 
with assiduous care through all the stages of its subsequent 
development. The applause of foreign audiences was 
soothing to my pride, but that which I received at home 
had aroused a deeper sentiment. The people of England 
bestowed their approbation on the results of long practice 
and severe study, but my countrymen gave me theirs in 
generous anticipation of those results ; they looked with 
indulgence on the completed statue; you marked with 
interest, from day to day, the progress of the work, till the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 155 

rough block, by gradual change, assumed the present form. 
Let me hope that it may yet be sculptured to great sym 
metry and smoothness, and better deserve your lavish 
regard. The sounds and sights which greet me here are 
linked with thrilling associations. Among the voices which 
welcome me to-night, I distinguish some which were raised 
in kind approval of my earliest efforts. Among the faces 
which surround this board I trace lineaments deeply 
stamped on my memory in that expression of benevolent 
encouragement with which they regarded my juvenile 
attempts and cheered me onward in the outset of my 
career. I look on your features, sir (said Mr. Forrest, ad 
dressing himself to the Mayor of the city, John Swift, who 
occupied a seat by his right), and my mind glides over a 
long interval of time, to a scene I can never forget. Four 
lustres are now nearly completed since the event occurred 
to which I allude. 

" A crowd was gathered, one evening, in the Tivoli 
Garden to behold the curious varieties of delirium men 
exhibited on inhaling nitrous oxide. Several years had 
then elapsed since the great chemist of England had made 
known the singular properties of exhilarating gas; and 
strange antics performed under its influence by distin 
guished philosophers, poets and statesmen of Europe, were 
then on record. It was yet, however, a novelty with us, 
and the public experiments drew throngs to witness them. 
Among those to whom the intoxicating agent was admin 
istered on the occasion referred to, there chanced to be a 
little unfriended boy who, in the instant ecstasy which the 
subtle fluid inspired, threw himself into a tragic attitude, 
and commenced declaiming a passage from one of Shake 
speare s plays : What ho ! he cried, young Richmond, 
ho ! tis Richard calls. I hate thee, Harry, for thy blood of 
Lancaster ! But the effect of the serial draught was brief 
as it was sudden and irresistible. The boy, awaking as 
from a dream, was surprised to find himself the centre of 
attraction, the observed of all observers? Abashed at his 
novel and awkward position, he shrunk timidly from the 
glances of the spectators, and would have stolen in haste 
away ; but a stranger stepped from the crowd, and taking 
him kindly by the hand, pronounced words which thrilled 
through him with a spell-like influence. This lad, said he, 
has the germ of tragic greatness in him. The exhilarating 



156 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

gas has given him no new power ; it has only revealed one 
which lay dormant in him before. It needs only to be 
cherished and cultivated to bring goodly fruit. 

" Gentlemen, the present chief magistrate of our city 
was that benevolent stranger, and your guest to-night was 
that unfriended boy. If the prophecy has been in any de 
gree fulfilled if since that time I have attained some emi 
nence in my profession, let my full heart acknowledge that 
the inspiriting prediction, followed as it was with repeated 
acts of delicate and considerate kindness, exercised the 
happiest influence on the result. It was a word in season. 
It was a kindly greeting calculated to arouse all the ener 
gies of my nature and direct them to a particular aim. 
Prophecy oftentimes shapes the event which it seems to 
foretell. One shout of friendly confidence at the begin 
ning of a race may nerve the runner with strength to win 
the goal. Happy he, who, on accomplishing his round, is 
received with generous welcome by the same friends that 
cheered him at the start. Among such friends I stand. 
You listened with inspiring praise and augury to the im 
mature efforts of the boy, and you now honor with this 
proud token of your approbation the achievements of the 
man. You nurtured me in the bud and early blossom of 
my life, and labored to make me full of growing ; if you 
have succeeded, the harvest is your own." 

Mayor Swift had made an allusion to an incident 
in Forrest s early history that of inhaling laughing 
gas at the Tivoli Garden, on Market Street. This 
caused a roar of laughter, in which no one joined 
more heartily than the tragedian himself. (See Chap 
ter III.) 

Some remarks were made at that time by the press 
as regards the exclusive character of this dinner. It 
was said that a dinner to an actor was the reward of 
literary services rendered to his country, and that in 
vitations should have been given to the members of the 
profession, who for years assisted the great actor to sus 
tain the dramatic, as well as the literary character of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 157 

the American stage. There were many actors living 
at the time, whose names should have been included 
among those of the press, the politicians, lawyers and 
doctors. William B. Wood, Maywood, Wemyss, E. S. 
Connor, Charles S. Porter, and Howard, the vocalist, 
were the only members of the profession present. As 
a compliment to Mr. Forrest, this dinner was a flat 
tering mark of the estimation in which his talent was 
held in his native city. Some fifteen years ago, in 
giving an account of this dinner, in connection with a 
short sketch of Mr. Forrest s life, we said : 

" Time and space would fail us to accord even a brief 
notice to the various addresses on this festive event. His 
Honor the Mayor, as the tide of reminiscences swept past, 
gave vent to the obvious expressions flowing from the 
fountain of feeling the heart. He did honor to the in 
voluntary bursts of applause by gently wiping his well- 
deluged eyes a weakness, if ye please so to call it, that 
seemed contagious. The noble Chief-Justice Gibson re 
laxed from legal dignity and reserve, and amused the com 
pany from his well-stored anecdotal repository, with plain- 
spoken and racy facts. Joseph K. Chandler, Col. James 
Page, Richard Penn Smith, Morton McMichael, Dr. Jack 
son, and others, kept the tables joyous with piquant jest, 
repartee, and sprightly anecdote ; and, as one of the edi 
tors of our press said, our brother of the United States 
Gazette was full of point and pith, teeming with peculiar 
aptitude of allusion, from gay to grave. The songs and 
duets, by Messrs. Russell, Brough, Howard, and our old 
amateur friend H. E. Levenstein, were excellent, and as 
tastefully swallowed as the sparkling champagne, some of 
the bottles of which were with a very felicitous conceit 
marked the Forrest Brand, while the name of the chief 
guest was woven in wreaths which encircled the sugared 
pyramids of confection, and was also embossed in white 
sugared letters, in the cakes and pastry of the dessert." 

Letters were received from Washington Irving 



158 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

and other distinguished literary gentlemen, compliment 
ary to the guest, apologetic of non-attendance. 

William B. Wood, in his " Personal Kecollections 
of the Stage/ sums up this pleasing event in Mr. For 
rest s life in five lines : " During this season the 
citizens of Philadelphia honored their distinguished 
townsman, Edwin Forrest, with a splendid dinner, 
under circumstances which must have proved highly 
gratifying to him." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

KING LEAR. ORIGIN OF THE PLOT. CHRONICLE HIS 
TORY OF KING LEAR. SHAKESPEARE S LEAR. 

BETTERTON. BURBAGE. BARTON BOOTH. KEM- 

BLE S ADAPTATION. WILLIAM DUNLAP s OPINION OF 

FORREST S LEAR. MR. FORREST S CONCEPTION OF 
THE CHARACTER. EXTRAORDINARY TALENT DIS 
PLAYED IN ITS RENDITION. CRITICAL NOTICES BY 

THE AUTHOR. THRILLING INCIDENT DURING MR. 

FORREST S PERFORMANCE OF LEAR. FIRST PER 
FORMANCE OF KING LEAR IN AMERICA. THE CAST. 

MR. FORREST S career was now one of a succes 
sion of triumphs. We shall have very little to 
say about his engagements North or South, nor of any 
other until his departure to fulfil another engagement 
in Europe. Our readers will perceive that in our 
desultory style we have not strictly adhered to the 
biographical order of composition, but used the more 
general term Reminiscences. Our object is to place 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 159 

Mr. Forrest before the American people in two distinct 
characters, the one private, the other dramatic. 

Perhaps no man belonging to the profession ren 
dered these two characters more distinct than did Mr. 
Forrest. Garrick, Kemble, Cooke, Kean, Booth and 
Fennell, acted all the time, and were alike distin 
guished for their actions off the stage, which were as 
much in character as were those on the stage. 

To prove this, it would be necessary for us to give 
a sketch of the life of these gentlemen, which is quite 
out of the question in connection with these reminis 
cences. Many of our readers, however, can bear wit 
ness to the truth of these remarks, as relates to two or 
three of those named. Nor is it necessary to add, there 
are many now living to whom they will apply with 
equal force. 

It is said of one of those named above : 

" Hide the goblet from his lip, 

He must glut in his thoughts while his brethren sip ; 
Should his proboscis once in its hollow be tombed 
All its liquor would hiss, and its sides be consum d." 

Not alone to this prominent actor will these lines 
apply. Although we do not allude to them here as 
forming a stage trait of character, yet the indulgence 
of the " wine cup," not unfrequently was the means of 
destroying both the private and dramatic character of 
many a member of the profession. 

While Mr. Forrest was winning laurels elsewhere, 
let us leave him for the present, and say something 
of his 

KING LEAR. 

Lear " You must bear with me ! 
Pray now, forget and forgive ; I am old and foolish." 

Act 1 V. ; Scene 7. 



160 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

This great tragedy the most finished, bold, and 
next to Hamlet in its intellectual and philosophical 
characteristics was written when the author was in 
the very prime of life and the full vigor and matu 
rity of his genius. It is deeply stamped with all the 
most marked peculiarities of the style and cast of 
thought predominant in all his later works. 

THE OLD PLAY OF KING LEAR. 

The old "Chronicle" History of King Leir, as it is 
called on the title-page, was entered at Stationers Hall 
in 1564; the author s name is unknown. It was 
played by Henslowe s company, on the 6th of April, 
1593. Shakespeare s King Lear, could not have been 
composed until after 1603, because it contains several 
singular names of spirits, taken from Samuel Hansnet s 
Declaration of " Popish Imposters," then first published. 
Malone confidently thought that the substitution of 
"Britishman" for "Englishman" in Edgar s repetition 
of the old verse, act iii., scene 4, proved the piece to 
have been written after James I. had been proclaimed 
the first sovereign of Great Britain, October 1st, 1604. 
He therefore referred the play to 1605, and Dr. Drake 
to 1604. 

As this entry is somewhat curious, we annex it : 
" 26 November, 1607. Na. Butler and Jo. Busby. 
Entred for their copie under f liande of Sur Geo. 
Bucke, Kt. and the wardens a boohe catted Mr. Willm. 
Shakespeare, his Jiistorye of King Lear, as yt was 
played before the King s Majestie at Whitehall, upon 
St. Stephen s night, at Christmas last, by his Majestie s 
servants playing usually at the Globe on the Bank 
side." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FO11REST. 

There is no doubt but the two plays owe their ori 
gin to a literal translation of King Lear of the Britons, 
and his Three Daughters, from a portion of the Welsh 
history by Tysilio, who wrote in the sixth century ; the 
MSS. of which are now in the Bodleian library. The 
legend was frequently quoted by Qeoffery of Monmouth, 
and then translated in Holinshead s Chronicles, whence 
Shakespeare certainly derived it. 

In the old Welsh legend, it reads that Lear had no 
sons, but three daughters, whose names were Gonilla, 
Ragun and Cordilla, whom he loved most tenderly, but 
especially his youngest daughter Cordilla. When he 
became old he thought of dividing the Isle of Britain, 
as a portion for his daughters. But to make a trial of 
their affection and duty to him, and to know who 
deserved the best part of the kingdom, he asked each of 
them who loved him most. Gonilla, the eldest, made 
answer, " that she loved him more than her own soul." 
The father replied " Since you regard my old age 
before your own soul, my dearest daughter, I will repay 
your affection, and you shall be married to the man you 
desire, and the third part of my kingdom shall be your 
portion." The question was proposed to Ragun, the 
second daughter, who replied, "that she could not 
express her tender affection for her dear father, but she 
loved him above all creatures ; " the father answered, 
" that he loved her as much, and would bestow the same 
upon her as his eldest daughter, Gonilla." Cordilla, 
perceiving how they betrayed her credulous father with 
flattery, thought of making a suitable reply to his 
question ; when being asked she said : " My dear 
father, although there are some who profess to love you 
beyond bounds, yet I love you, my dear father, as much 
10 



1G2 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

as it is the duty of a daughter to love her father, neither 
more or less, and take this as my answer how much 
you -have, so much is your value, and so I love you." 

The choleric king takes offence at this and to use a 
familiar phrase, " cut her off with a shilling." In the 
old play the words are thus given. Gonilla says : 

" As much as child e er loved, or father found ; 
A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable ; 
Beyond all manner of so much I love you." 

Eagun, equally affectionate, says : 

" I am made of that same metal as my sister, 
And prize me at her worth. In my true heart ; 
I find she names my very deed of love ; 
Only she comes too short, that I profess 
Myself an enemy to all other joys, 
Which the most precious square of sense possesses, 
And find I am alone felicitate 
In your highness love." 

Cordilla s response is beautifully expressive : 

" I love your majesty 
According to my bond ; nor more, nor less." 

It is not our purpose to point out passages which 
have a seeming resemblance, seeming indeed they are, 
for Shakespeare s play founded upon these mere 
sketches, is a triumph so immense, that all minor pro 
ductions are but the A, B, C to the dramatic art, at 
whose head he alone will ever stand. 

In the old play, Lear has a friend called Percillus, 
who never excites our interest as does that of Kent in 
the later and greater play by the immortal bard, 
Shakespeare. 

The characters of both performances are nearly the 
same ; but while in the old play, they are compara 
tively only instruments of utterance, Shakespeare 
breathes a spirit of life into his historical personages, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 1C3 

and they live again in his lines. Shakespeare may be 
criticised for a century, but after all we shall only 
arrive at this point that we admire him above all 
others, because he is, more than all others, the poet of 
actual existence. 

SHAKESPEARE S LEAR. 

* The story of Lear was originally related by Geof 
frey of Monmouth, and thence translated in " Hol- 
inshead s Chronicles/ whence Shakespeare certainly 
derived it ; though he seems to have been more in 
debted to an anonymous play, entered at Stationers 
Hall, May 14th, 1594. Several passages in Shakespeare s 
Lear, lead to the conclusion that he read John Higgins 
poem of " Queen Cordela," in part i. of the " Mirror 
for Magistrates," 1587, and also the episode of " Glou 
cester and Sons," as well as the "Narrative of the 
Blind King of Paphlagonia," in " Sir Philip Sidney s 
Arcadia." Shakespeare composed Lear in 1603. There 
can be no doubt of this, from the fact that he uses the 
names of certain spirits taken from Samuel Hansnet s 
" Declaration of Popish Imposters," then just pub 
lished. There are many curious facts connected with 
Lear. The story of Lear bears date eight hundred 
years before Christ. He was the eldest son of Bladud, 
and is said to have governed "his country for sixty 
years." 

In 1681, Nahum Tate s edition of this tragedy ap 
peared at the Duke s Theatre, in which the fool was 
omitted. Coleman s version, in 1763, was a failure. 

The full title of Shakespeare s play was, " History 
of the Life and Death of King Lear and his Three 
Daughters, with the Unfortunate Life of Edgar, Sonne 



164 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

and Heire of the Earl of Gloucester, and his Sullen 
and Assumed Humour of Tom of Bedlam. As it was 
plaid before the King s Majesty at Whitehall uppon 
St. Stephen s night, in Christmas hollidaies. By his 
Majesty s Servants, playing usually at the Globe on 
the Bank Side. 4to. 1608." 

Tate and Coleman s we have alluded to. The great 
play, however, upon this subject, prior to the time 
Shakespeare s was written, is the one dated 1594, and 
entitled " The True Chronicle History in King Leir 
and His Three Daughters, Gonerill, Began, and Cor 
delia. As it hath been divers and sundry times lately 
acted. 4to. 1605." Shakespeare s Lear, differs ma 
terially from this version. 

There is no doubt but Shakespeare borrowed the 
idea of the curse from the (Edipus, of Sophocles, 
although it had not then been translated. Shake 
speare must have read it in the original, if he read it 
at all. The similarity, however, is not so striking as 
to accuse him of plagiarism, nor so startling as to 
lessen his claim to originality. We annex a portion 
from (Edipus : 

" Get thee^hence, thou hast no father here 
Detested wretch thou vilest of the vile 
And take these curses with thee on thy head, 
"Which I call down ; by arms thy native land 
Never may st thou recover, nor again 
Visit the vales of Argos : may st thou die 
Slain by a brother s hand, and may thy hand 
Slay him by whom thou art to exile driv n. 
These curses I call on thee, and invoke 
The parent gloom of Erebus abhorr d, 
To give thee in his dark tartarian realms 
A mansion." 

The curse of (Edipus is prophetic of the fate of his 
sons. To give the terrible one of Lear otherwise than 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 165 

as a curse would destroy all its terrible meaning and 
mar its power. Lear himself says : " Tis the untented 
woundings of a father s curse" 

From tradition we learn that Betterton and Barton 
Booth rendered the curse more as a prayer than as a 
terrible imprecation. Indeed, there are those who con 
sider it in that light still. Those who so construe it 
are not Shakesperian scholars, or versed in the holiness 
of prayer. Garrick gave it after the traditionary man 
ner of Burbage, with fierce and rapid vehemence. 
Kemble, however, uttered it as a curse, made up of 
unmixed wrath. 

Mr. Forrest s name is identified with the char 
acter of Lear, as were those of Burbage, Betterton, 
Barton Booth, Garrick and Kemble. Barton Booth 
first appeared on the stage in 1701. He was celebrated 
in Shakespeare s Othello and Hamlet s Ghost, these 
being his master-pieces. He was likewise the origi 
nal Cato. It is a curious fact connected with all the 
great English actors, that their Lear, if we except, 
perhaps, Garrick, never created so much excitement 
in the dramatic world as has that of Mr. Forrest s. 
Betterton and Booth were considered great in the part, 
nor was it until 1742 that their reputation grew dim 
beneath the blaze of genius Garrick threw around it. 
John. P. Kemble, in 1801, produced his own adapta 
tion of the tragedy at Drury Lane, and at Covent Gar 
den, in 1808. 

Mr. Edwin Forrest re-created Lear, as Kiche- 
lieu did France, infusing into it new life, new power, 
and carrying out to the very letter the spirit of the 
author. 

One great feature in Mr. Forrest s impersonation 



166 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

was his identification with the peculiar characteristics 
of the part. Lear is not governed by one passion 
alone ; there is a blending of rage, grief and indigna 
tion and what may be termed a tumultuous combina 
tion of them altogether. The words and the actions 
(as far as the author conveys them) of Lear are written 
out, and described for an old man of four-score years, 
and added to the extraordinary incidents of the trag 
edy, render it one of the most difficult to portray. 

" Pray do not mock me. 
lam a very foolish, fond old man, 
Four-score and upward, and to deal plainly, 
I fear lam not in my perfect mind." 

Act IV.; Scene 7. 

When Forrest enacted King Lear in New York, in 
1S27- S, William Dunlap, "the father," so-called, "of 
the American stage," speaking of this performance at 
the time, said : 

" That young man is not merely superior to other rep 
resentatives of Lear of the present day, but in portraying 
the passions, sufferings and insanity of the generous, hasty, 
heart-broken old monarch, with a degree of energy, pathos 
and fidelity, he even surpasses the wonderful efforts of 
George Frederick Cooke." 

Leigh Hunt subsequently endorsed Dunlap s opin 
ion, by saying some years afterwards, that he considered 
his King Lear as the best impersonation of the charac 
ter that has ever been given on the English stage 
within his recollection. 

There was one feature in Mr. Forrest s Lear, and 
that is, he was the only actor who ever attempted the 
herculean task of carrying out the physical infirmity, 
as well as the irritability of Lear, and keeping up the 
nervous tremor and the varying passions, acting upon 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

old age from the first to last, so as not to mar the har 
mony existing in the terrible whirlwind by which they 
are agitated. The great beauty of Mr. Forrest s Lear 
was what we might term "artistic harmony/ Cooke s 
Lear, never could stand the test of criticism. He 
destroyed all harmony of words and action by a sort of 
rugged rumbling, and what musicians call staccato. 
Forrest s, on the contrary, was harmonic, and given in 
legato denoting smoothness. Some critics have ac 
cused Mr. Forrest of rant, and too much display of vio 
lence and uncontrolled passion. Lear is all passion. 
" Come not between the dragon and his wrath," is in 
itself a text for the actor. If this is a fault, it is Shake 
speare, and not the actor, who is to blame. In Lear, 
as in Hamlet, the authors object was to represent the 
beginning and course of insanity. Old age struggling 
with wrong and insult is one of the startling features 
of this great tragedy. 

Lear, in the early scenes, bears but the scars of 
mind upon his brow the thought of years not their 
decrepitude. His course had been one of might and 
power, and he determines to maintain them. The 
scene with Kent, in Act I., shows this, as also his fearful 
curse on Goneril. Here we have the monarch a dragon 
in his wrath ; but when the startling facts break upon 
him that his children are turned traitors to his will, 
reason receives an additional blow, and the old king 
totters to his ruin. Mr. Forrest never for a single 
moment lost sight of the physical and mental condition 
of Lear ; hence he gave the insane portions so true to 
nature that they appalled the audience, and we behold 
him though crowned with a wreath of straw " every 
inch a king." 



1G8 LIFE- OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Mr, Forrest had studied the theory of insanity with 
a student s care a knowledge of which is so essential to 
a proper delineation of several of the characters in the 
plays of Shakespeare. It was this knowledge that 
made his Hamlet the Hamlet of Shakespeare, and gave 
to that of Macbeth, its psychological cast, and illus 
trates the true theory of apparitions the mind s disease. 
"Is this a dagger which I see before me ?" is one of 
the visions the condition of the mind conjures up. It 
was this knowledge that gave Mr. Forrest an advan 
tage over others far less studious. He made the study 
of insanity a specialty, visited insane asylums and other 
places both here and in Europe, and with artistic exact 
ness, carried out in his renditions all those mental pe 
culiarities and eccentricities that critics recognize as 
truthful, and not as the mere ebullitions of a disposi 
tion and temper naturally fiery and irritable. Our 
readers many of them, at least will remember the 
terrible scene in Lear, where he appears fantasti 
cally dressed, and exclaims : " No ! they cannot touch 
me, for I am the king himself ! " 

The pauses in Mr. Forrest s readings have been 
quoted as faults. Pauses are not unfrequently the 
lights and shades of sentences that give effect to imper 
sonations ; Shakespeare himself says : 

" Give me leave to read philosophy, 
And while I pause serve in your harmony." 

In Lear, we see the ebb and flow of feeling, its 
pauses and feverish starts, its impatience of opposi 
tion, and its accumulating force. The passion of Lear 
is like the tempest it has its pauses and its outbreaks. 
" Blow winds and crack your cheeks ! rage ! blow ! " etc., 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 169 

is one of the loftiest examples of apostrophe that is to 
be found in the English language. Then comes the 
pause in the tempest. "My wits began to fail." It is 
here the power of Mr. Forrest shone forth in fearful 
grandeur it is here by action he conveyed to the audi 
ence the foreshadowing of Lear s madness. The twitch 
ing of the fingers the motion of the body the press 
ing together of the hands in fact, every peculiar trait 
denoting insanity told that the mind of Lear was 
gone. This scene kept the house spell-bound; the 
silence throughout was painful. 

" Come on, boy ! how dost my boy ? Art cold ? 
I am cold myself." 

These words were uttered in tones that no other 
actor we ever heard was capable of giving. A writer 
once said that the Lear of Shakespeare cannot be acted. 
It is true that the greatness of Lear is beyond the reach 
of common minds ; it is full of intellect, madness, pas 
sion and insanity, dramatically worked up. To give 
these it required a Garrick, a Cooke and a Kean in 
England, but it remained for our own country to give 
us a Lear that eclipsed them all. Forrest s Lear lives 
with the fame of Shakespeare. 

We give a few extracts from articles written by us 
at various times during Mr. Forrest s performance of 
Lear. They were written long before our personal 
relations with the great actor commenced. Nothing that 
we ever wrote since spoke more favorably of him than 
what we said then. He ivas at all times a great actor. 

[FIRST EXTRACT.] 

" The great beauty of Mr. Forrest s Lear is what we 
might term artistic harmony. Cooke s Lear never could 
stand the test of criticism. He destroyed all harmony of 



170 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

words and action by a sort of rugged rumbling, and what 
musicians call staccato, resembling more a watchman s 
rattle than anything else in nature. And yet Cooke was 
great in one or two things ; one was where he says : c JVo, 
Regan, thou shalt never have my curse, and the other 
where he exclaims : Who put my man $ the stocks f 
In the loftier passages of Lear he was not great. The 
character of Lear has been drawn by Shakespeare, bold, 
warm-hearted and direct ; if for a moment he smothers his 
rage, he never conceals it; his passion, when most repressed, 
is a subterraneous wind that is heard with a deep sound 
as it rushes along; when that passion is released, it is 
indeed, a tempest, and as you may say a whirlwind/ 
And yet there is music in it wild and fearful music. 
Such is Lear such Mr. Forrest s conception, such his ren 
dition. Our readers will understand that we have never 
praised nor spoken in commendatory terms of Mr. Forrest, 
unless he came up to our notion of how and in what man 
ner a part should be played. We have tradition for our 
comparisons, and a proper appreciation of true art to dis 
tinguish between the two extremes good and bad. Nor 
do we rely upon our own judgment altogether, critically 
speaking, but the effect good acting has upon us physically 
as well as mentally. Impressions from the seal of genius, 
like those on the device of a picture, live on with us 
through life. The artist may devise a new one, but the 
first still remains. Mr. Forresfs Lear was great. This 
opinion the public has sealed with its seal. 

"Mr. Forrest s mad scene surpassed all his former 
efforts. From his first entrance into the forest until the 
last, it was one continued chain of wild grandeur. The 
audience listened entranced pent up feeling, feelings of 
sorrow, sympathy with his grief, seemed ready to give vent 
in tears ; and had it continued, we feel satisfied that a sense 
of overpowering nature would have outspoken- grief 
would have had vent." 

[SECOND EXTRACT.] 

" Mr. Forrest s King Lear has never been equalled. 
We have seen all the great actors in the part since 1815, 
and never in a single instance, found one that could grasp, 
with a master s hand, all those terrible elements of passion 
with which it abounds, as he does. Lear, in every age 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 171 

since its introduction on the stage, has been considered one 
of the most difficult characters of Shakespeare. Chilled 
from age, choleric, peevish and overbearing, with sufficient 
cause to make him so, the actor who attempts its delin 
eation must be quick of conception, skilful and ready to 
depict these several characteristics. 

"Some critics have endeavored to parallel the terrific 
curse of Lear, with that of CEdipus upon his sons in the 
1 CEdipus Coloneus of Sophocles, but there is no compari 
son. The one is prophetic of the fate of his offspring, the 
other appeals to universal feeling, working on the ungrate 
ful child, as he imagines, pangs similar to those which she 
inflicts. 

" Readers of the Bible have no difficulty in tracing to 
its hallowed pages many of the beautiful as well as the ter 
rible passages which abound in the plays of Shakespeare. 
Job furnishes several, and the ClXth Psalm may be 
quoted as furnishing materials for the curse of Lear." 

[THIRD EXTRACT.] 

" Taken in all, it was a grand performance. The man 
who can play Lear as it deserves to be played, must not 
only possess high genius, fine taste and uncommon physical 
energy, but he must have passed into the shadows of age, 
and endured sharp trial and bitter sorrow. Mr. Forrest 
has all these requisites, and they blend together in an im 
pressive picture whose sombre yet powerful colors are 
stamped upon the soul of him who looks thereon. The 
tremendous grief of the crownless king, his awful wrath, 
his madness, his tears, his death all these are drawn with 
a wonderful vividness and reality, which go straight to the 
heart. We remember nothing more touching on the stage 
than the struggles of the poor old man when he feels 
reason tottering upon her throne, and then yielding to the 
irresistible pressure of a mighty woe, sinks into the semi- 
oblivion of a harmless lunacy. And in the climax of the 
closing scene, where he bends over the corpse of his daugh 
ter, looks into her still eyes, presses her pulseless heart, 
watches for the dumb lips to open once more, and then 
whispers, in broken, tremulous voice : Cordelia ! Corde 
lia ! stay a little ! what an infinite depth of pathos is 
there in it all ! It is the sublimity of sorrow, the acme of 
an anguish whose appropriate consummation is death." 



172 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

[FOURTH EXTRACT.] 

" Mr. Forrest s King Lear is one of his best parts, and 
he stands alone the Lear of his time. From the moment 
he appears on the stage until the final close of this great 
tragedy, he never loses sight of the true character of Lear. 
His bursts of passion are beyond the power of pen to de 
scribe ; they are the outbreaks of an abused man driven to 
desperation by the cruel treatment of his daughters. Mr. 
Forrest s delineation of the choleric king is so extremely 
natural, that his individuality is lost in the masterly por 
traiture he presents us with. Perhaps there is not in the 
whole range of dramatic writing anything to equal the ter 
rific curse in Act I. There is no attempt to make the mere 
dramatic art subservient to the actor s purpose solely, but 
it is to give us Lear and Shakespeare, and not Lear and the 
actor. Mr. Forrest s great starting-point in Lear, is where 
he utters the curse on Goneril, Act I. Let any one not a 
theatre-goer, read this awful malediction, and then imagine 
what an effect it would have on an audience when given 
by Mr. Forrest. It is sublime even in the terror it creates. 
Mr. Forrest s utterance of this passage is, perhaps, the 
most startling and thrilling that was ever heard upon the 
stage ; there is no dramatic preparation for its coming, no 
foreshadowing it by any inaction previous; it comes upon 
us a part and portion of the great play in all its terrific 
grandeur. Age in anger, age in arms to crush base ingrati 
tude, age in passion, yet governed by reason, throws itself 
on its knees and exclaims in awful wrath Hear, nature, 
hear. Dear Goddess, hear ! then he invokes the curse, 
during which the house was hushed into silence, the audi 
ence seemed to feel the oppression, for the very air was 
stilled ; and a sense of some powerful influence pervading, 
held the breath as it were in abeyance. As he progressed 
in its utterance, he arose in grandeur, awful in his terrible 
sublimity ; and when he reached its climax, and exclaimed, 
Away ! away ! the audience awoke as from a fearful 
spell, and sound again broke upon the awful stillness which 
its delivery caused. 

"In the third act, where his mind totters between 
reason and madness, he held the audience spell-bound by 
the magic of his art. His defiance of the elements was 
grand and magnificent ; it was Ajax-like, gigantic, awful, 
fearful in its sublimity. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 173 

" Throughout the part, Mr. Forrest never for a moment 
missed the cue of age. He looked a king, * aye, every 
inch a king, even in his moods of grief. We do not 
speak of Mr. Forrest s Lear as a production of to-day, nor 
do we say that he plays it better now than he did years 
ago. Then, as now, he was the finished artist, and those 
who speak of faults to be corrected under their instruction, 
have other motives, which sway their opinions, than those 
which constitute the basis of that peculiar art called crit 
icism. The man, not the artist, is the target of their 
venomed shaft." 

We might follow Mr. Forrest through each, and 
every scene of this great play, and point out passages 
which struck us as being of great force and power ; but 
to speak of his Lear in detached parts, is not our pur 
pose, as it would seem to question its general and har 
monic whole, not only as a great piece of dramatic art, 
but conveying to us, by the power of genius, the origi 
nal by a seeming optical illusion. Where everything 
was so grand, so imposing and so natural, it would be 
a very difficult matter for the most astute critic to dis 
tinguish one single brighter gem than those from the 
brilliant cluster he presents to us. In connection with 
Mr. Forrest s Lear, we annex the following incident, 
which occurred in New Orleans some thirty years ago, 
on the occasion of his playing King Lear in that city. 
During the utterance of the curse we heard a strange 
sound proceeding from a gentleman sitting beside us 
a sound so strange and unnatural, which induced us to 
turn suddenly round. The fearful words of the curse 
were ringing in our ears as uttered by the only living 
actor capable of giving it with that fierceness and rapid 
vehemence so essential to render it effective. That it 
was so in this instance there was no mistake. To our 
horror, we found the eyes of the gentleman fixed, his 



174 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

mouth open, and a death-like paleness overspreading 
his face. His hands were clenched together, and it was 
evident that all voluntary motion was suspended. In 
stinctively we caught him by the shoulders, and with a 
sudden jerk, caused a reaction of the blood. He gave 
a gasp, and uttered a deep, heavy sigh. As he gazed 
around, it was like one awaking from a troubled sleep. 
The awful curse, so fearfully uttered, was still ringing 
in his ears. It had taken away the man s breath, and 
my shaking him caused him to recover. " One moment 
more, sir," he said, " and I should have been a dead 
man." Looking towards the stage, he continued : " Is 
he gone ? Being answered that the terrible old man 
was not there, he, like Richard, " was himself again." 

King Lear was first played in this country, January 
14th, 1754, and as a matter of dramatic history, we 
give a copy of the original cast : 

KING LEAR MB. MALONE. 

KENT MR. HALLAM. 

GLOSTER MR. BELL. 

EDGAR MR. SINGLETON. 

EDMUND MR. CL ARKSON. 

CORNWALL MR. MILLER. 

ALBANY MR. ADCOCK. 

BURGUNDY MR. HULETT. 

USHER MR. RIGBY. 

ATTENDANTS MASTERS HALLAM. 

CORDELIA MRS. HALLAM. 

BEGAN MRS. ADCOCK. 

GONERIL Miss BECCELEY. 

PANTHER . . . . MRS. RIGBY. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

MR. FORREST A STUDENT. MEN WITH WHOM HE AS 
SOCIATED. DAMON, HIS GREAT TRIUMPH IN THE 

PART. VIRGINIUS. ENGLISH CRITICISM. CORIO- 
LANUS. RICHELIEU. 

IV/TE. FORREST S position before the American 
- people, in the years 1828, 30, 31, was one that, 
while it astonished the English clique, delighted his 
friends, and it required all his energy and genius to 
maintain it. The school in which he was educated, 
the associations he had formed in his western tour, and 
his limited time for study, were considered as so many 
drawbacks to his future success. How he studied, when 
and where, and acquired, as it were, the mastery over 
the elements of the dramatic art, are questions that the 
midnight lamp, which saw him hovering over old 
tomes, old plays, and the annotations from gifted 
minds, alone can answer. Forrest did not, at one 
period of his career, like the elder Booth, A. A. Addams, 
and others, associate with the lowest of the profession, 
or the " oyster critics " of the press. He formed the 
acquaintance of such men as George P. Morris, M. M. 
Noah, William C. Bryant, William Leggett, James 
Dunlap, Joseph R. Ingersoll, Jesse R. Burden, Morton 
McMichael, Chief-Justice Gibson, Judge Rogers, Col. 
John Swift, Dr. Samuel Jackson, Louis A. Godey, 
John W. Forney, Henry Clay, George M. Dallas, Daniel 

(175) 



176 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Webster, and his idol of Democracy, and of a Man 
General Andrew Jackson. We do not give these 
names as myths in his catalogue of associates, advisers, 
and friends ; but names of men who took a pride in the 
rising genius of the American stage. 

Forrest spent many a pleasant hour with Old 
Hickory, at the Hermitage, and held converse with the 
most talented men of the country. These were men, 
gentlemen, who had no other object in view, when they 
took young Forrest by the hand, than to advance him 
in the profession he had adopted. They could well say 
with Hamlet : 

" Nay, do not think I natter ; 
For what advancement may I hope from thee, 
That no revenue hast, but thy good spirits, 
To feed and clothe thee ? Why should the poor be flatter d ? " 

They did not "crook the pregnant hinges of the 
knee where thrift may follow fawning/ but made his 
pathway to fame and fortune pleasant by proper en 
couragement and advice. These he did not disregard ; 
hence success. 

From the time he achieved a triumph in the char 
acter of Damon, over the impression Cooper had made 
upon the public, he bounded upward, coming forth 
from obscurity as it were, Pallas-like, fully panoplied 
to battle in the " Mimic World," and he was carried 
along the stream of time by the mere efforts of his 
genius, guided by a strong will, until he reached the 
topmost round of the dramatic ladder, upon whose 
pinnacle was the word " EXCELSIOR ! " 

We have alluded to Forrest s Damon, in connection 
with which let us speak of his Brutus. Mr. Forrest 
was no imitator his style was entirely original. His 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORBES T. 177 

declamatory powers were of a most startling character, 
and his frenzied passion, as evidenced in Brutus, were 
truly appalling. An unanimous cry of "bravo !" not 
unfrequently burst from the audience, elicited by the 
beauty, force, and power of the delivery of thrilling 
passages. We well remember his Brutus (John How 
ard Payne s Brutus), the Brntus of his prime, as it was 
for all time. We well remember the deep and smother 
ed rage of the rising storm as it gathered force to hurl 
destruction on the tyrants of Rome ; before us stands 
the stern avenger of his country s wrongs ; we hear the 
deep tones of his rich and mellow voice, in that great 
struggle between a father s love and love of country. 

" Nature must have way ; 
I will perform all that a Roman should ; 
I cannot feel less than a father ought." 

These lines we re delivered with so much feeling 
that tears were freely shed by the spell-bound audience. 
Brutus was Forrest s great and first effort in Roman 
characters ; but, to make his footing sure, Damon had 
to be essayed. Cooper s Damon had stood the test of 
all the critics of the day. His figure, his face, his 
voice breathing forth the high-toned grandeur of 
human greatness, blended with harmony, all combined 
to make his impersonations of the Roman characters 
master pictures of the art. He might have been sur 
passed by Kean as Lear, Othello, and Richard III. ; but 
as Damon, Coriolanus, and Virginius, he had then no 
equal in the world ! Kean was eminently successful as 
Richard and Othello ; but when he would rival Cooper 
in the proud unbending characters of the Roman school 
those godlike spirits who rose out of the desolation 
of war who brooded over the ruins of their country s 
11 



178 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

greatness, or triumphed over the vestiges of their own 
blighted fortunes whose mighty souls bore up amidst 
the ruins and sorrows of a nation, and finally gave 
freedom to the people, and prosperity to the land it 
was here, and only here, Kean and his imitators failed, 
and Cooper stood alone, the noblest Koman of them 
all. Such was the reputation of Cooper, when Edwin 
Forrest, the youthful athlete of the dramatic ring, 
stepped forth to compete with him in Koman charac 
ters. We shall never forget his first essay as Damon, 
when as an acknowledged star, he appeared before the 
largest audience ever assembled within the walls of 
a theatre. From that night he was the acknowledged 
Damon of the American stage. 

We remember as if it were but yesterday, instead 
of almost a half century, the effect produced in what 
is called "the Lucullus scene." It is where he calls for 
his horse ; the slave hesitates. Damon repeats his re 
quest, yet Lucullus stirs not ; and when his master 
sternly commands him to obedience, the trembling slave 
tells what he had done : 

Luc. " "When I beheld the means of saving you, 
I could not hold my hand my heart was in it ; 
And in my heart, the hope of giving life 
And liberty to Damon ; and 

Damon. Go on, 
I am listening to thee. 

Luc. And in the hope to save you, 
I slew your steed. 

Damon. Almighty gods ! " 

As he uttered the expression, "Almighty gods!" 
he stood the picture of mute despair. Lucullus gazes 
upon the terrible look and convulsive movements of 
his master in silent horror. Directly the delirious fury 
of Damon is turned upon his slave ; for a moment his 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 179 

eyes, like those of a tiger ready to spring upon his prey, 
are fixed on the trembling victim ; in the next he seizes 
him by the throat. The slave struggles, but in vain. 
The hands of his master are upon him ; his screams 
avail not. The desperate Damon drags him towards a 
yawning precipice ; his eyes flash maniac fires his fea 
tures convulsed the slave struggling, but in vain, to 
escape the dreadful doom before him. During the 
scene the audience were held spell-bound ; nor was it 
until the master and slave disappeared, that the pent- 
up feelings gave way and the intensity caused by the 
scene found vent in a suppressed sigh of relief. The 
next grand scene in this play, so full of " natural glory/ 
is where Damon reaches the scaffold in time to save 
Pythias from the death his friendship for his friend was 
about to bring upon him. They meet ; they embrace ; 
the voice of Dionysius is heard calling "Damon!" who, 
when he hears it, rushes towards the scaffold and 
ascends it. Drawing his figure proudly up he gazes for 
a moment upon the spectators with unflinching eyes : 
then turning toward the place whence the voice came, 
exclaims : 

" Damon is here look at mo. 
I am standing on my throne as proud a one 
As yon illumined mountain, when the sun 
Makes his last stand. Let him look on me too ; 
He never did behold a spectacle 
More full of natural glory. 
All Syracuse starts up upon her hills, 
Arid lifts her -hundred thousands hands. (SJiouts Tieard.) 
She shouts ! Hark, how she shouts. Oh, Dionysius, 
When wert thou in thy life hailed with a peal 
Of hearts and hands like that ? Shout again 
Again until the mountains echo back your clamor, 
And the great sea joins in that mighty voice. 
Tell me, slaves, where is your tyrant ? 
Why stands he hence aloof where is your master 
What is become of Dionysius ? 
I would behold and laugh at him." 



180 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

As the recollection of Mr. Forrest s Damon is so 
fresh in the memory of our readers, and who can bear 
witness to its greatness, it is unnecessary for us to say 
more. 

VIRGINIUS. 

In no other character, if we except Coriolanus, has 
the actor s figure and general bearing been shown to 
such advantage as it is in Virginius. The massive, 
yet compact form the bold, free drawing of the frame 
(to speak in a painter s phrase) the surprising 
strength and the ponderous grace which Mr. Forrest 
displayed in this character, presented to the audience 
the most perfect picture of a Koman hero that was 
ever displayed on the stage. During Mr. Forrest s 
last engagement in Philadelphia (1871), we wrote a 
notice of his Virginius, from which we make the fol 
lowing extract : 

" In the earlier scenes where domestic ease and paren 
tal affection blend with the martial roughness of the 
warrior, Mr. Forrest pleased us much. The picture scene 
was full of familiar touches, and truth of feeling. In the 
passage, too, where Virginius prepares for the dreadful 
rescue of his daughter s honor, the calm, natural tone of 
voice gave a terrible significance to the brief arrangements 
for the deed. When he sent Icilius to join his friends, for 
instance, Mr. Forrest delivered the command in that tone 
of calm urgency which people assume under an impend 
ing calamity; giving to monstrous events an air of danger 
blended with the certainty of averting them. When Vir 
ginius says to his daughter, i l hope you never play the 
truant ! it was with the fond raillery of an affectionate 
parent. Conscious of the truth of his child, he asks the 
question, knowing the reply she would make. Mr. For 
rest, during this passage, was beyond description; it was 
a gem : You are so happy when I am kind to you ! Am 
I not ahcays kind? I never spoke an angry word to you in 
all my life, Virginia] etc. And whose face is this you 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 181 

have given to Achilles V was asked not angrily, or as a de 
mand, but in the manner of curious inquiry. We remem 
ber Mr. Hamblin in this scene, making the inquiry in a 
tone of anger, startling Virginia by his harshness. Mr. 
Forrest was very fine in the scene where he gives Virginia 
in marriage to Icilius. Also grand in the one wherein Lu 
cius informs him he is summoned to Rome to answer to the 
charge of Caius Claudius. * Did he not strike him dead? 
came from the lips of Mr. Forrest as man never uttered 
them. Not Cooper, the Virgin ins of his day, equalled 
Mr. Forrest in this, the most exciting scene in the play. 
The scene in the forum awed the house into silence, and 
when the eyes of Virginius rested on the knife as it laid on 
the shambles, the pent-up feelings of the audience gave 
vent by a sigh of relief, for they saw, what Virginius did, 
the means, and the only means, of saving the honor of his 
child." 

An English critic, speaking of Mr. Forrest s Virgin 
ius, at Drury Lane, said : 

" In the passage, too, where Virginius prepares for the 
dreadful rescue of his daughter s honor, the calm natural 
tone of voice gave terrible significance to the brief arrange 
ments of the deed. * * Sheridan Knowles, the author, 
played Dentatus. Mr. Matthews is a respectable and 
useful actor; but he looks so very ?m-Roman in Appius 
Claudius, and is so deficient in animal spirits and lusty 
imperiousness, that the groundwork of the story lost in 
probability what it gained in odiousness by the tame and 
premeditated viciousness of the Decemvir. Such a man 
as Mr. Matthews s Appius was not the one to carry his 
schemes of luxurious outrage by public force, and in the 
face of danger more especially when opposed to such a 
presence as that of Mr. Forrest hi Virginius." 

CORIOLANUS. 

The materials of this great drama were derived 
chiefly from the memoirs of Coriolanus, contained in 
the " lives of the noble Grecians and Romans," com 
pared together by that grave, learned philosopher and 



182 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

historiographer, Plutarch of Choeronea, translated by 
Thomas North, Esq., 1579, and this one great hero was 
selected from the others by Shakespeare for immortal 
ity. The character is one that few actors attempt 
indeed, there are but few capable of rendering it in a 
manner calculated to impress it with the Roman attri 
butes of the hero. Mr. Cooper and Mr. Forrest are the 
only two who made the character a stage illusion by a 
truthful picture of this superb production of the great 
master of arts Shakespeare. 

In 1864, during Mr. Forrest s engagement at the 
"Academy of Music/ in Philadelphia, we wrote an ex 
tended notice of his Coriolanus, from which we make 
the following extracts : 

"Monday evening, November 21st, 1864, will long be 
remembered in dramatic annals. It will form an era in the 
drama, and add another page to its history. 

" The Academy of Music was literally crammed on this 
occasion, to witness Mr. Edwin Forrest reappear, after 
many years, in his great character of Coriolanus, It was 
placed upon the stage in a manner and style of excellence 
never surpassed. The stage throughout the action of the 
piece gave us a view of Rome in her grandeur, and the 
artistes in the play peopled it with the characters and 
personages, of the day ; the present was forgotten the 
imagination swayed by the illusion of the whole scene, 
and the action of the play, carried us back to Rome, and 
the territories of the Volscians and the Antiales. 

" Coriolanus, is not a familiar stage piece. Not be 
cause it is deficient in any of those dramatic elements 
which constitute a perfect whole, but from the fact that few 
artistes are enabled to grasp them, and bring their con 
flicting physical and mental qualities together. Coriola 
nus is one vast store-house of phrases, from the political, 
common-place language of the rabble to the high-toned 
argumentative reasoning of the hero, wherein, as Hazlitt 
says, The language of poetry naturally falls in with lan 
guage of power. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 183 

"Mr. Forrest s early impersonation of this character, that 
is, years ago, when youth excused exaggeration, was sim 
ply a creature of his elocutionary teaching. It had the 
peculiarities of a school that has done more to spoil actors 
than ever was accomplished by injudicious criticism. And 
this is saying a great deal. But as he threw off the trap 
pings of art, which encased genius, and erased the water 
colors of her pictures, his own creation placed Coriolanus 
before us on this occasion a most finished and brilliant pic 
ture. It is one to grace the walls of the Academy among 
the proudest productions of the age a fadeless gem of 
true art. 

" The Roman manliness of his face and figure, the 
haughty dignity of his carriage, and the fire of his eye, uni 
ted to the abandon with which he entered the arena to 
contend against remembered stars, conspired, on this occa 
sion, to render his Coriolanus one of the most finished, 
striking and classical performances that was ever exhib 
ited on the American stage. Sublime in giving utterance 
to its language, noble in the expression of its sentiments 
fiery, nay, even furious, yet dignified he threw around it 
a grandeur, pen is inadequate to describe. Throughout he 
was great uniformly so there was no husbanding his 
powers for the mere purpose of making a point, no subdued 
emotion for the display of unnatural bursts of passion, no 
tameness on the one hand, no unnecessary rant on the 
other. 

" Mr. Forrest stands alone in this character ; look back 
over the mimic world, and whose name nears itself to 
his in the past ? IsTot VandenhofFs, who was considered 
the model of the classic school of acting, and the represen 
tative of the heroes of its poets. We witnessed this gen 
tleman s impersonation of the character in the year 1838. 
Lacking all those physical qualities so essential to the great 
character qualities that invest the artist with power to 
look and act the part, he failed to render it either striking 
or interesting ; in fact, it created neither wonder nor sur 
prise. It was a reading of Shakespeare w T ords without 
looks, words without action ; a Coriolanus without a body 
or a soul a painted figure only. Forrest s Coriolanus is 
now a living picture. Vandenhoffs hangs beside it a 
painted one of still life. " 



184 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Of Mr. Forrest s Kichelieu it is scarcely necessary 
for us to say much. It is familiar to all, and all 
acknowledge its superiority over that of all others. 
Vandenhoff failed in it ; Macready rendered it ridicu 
lous ; Booth the younger, Connor in fact all who 
essayed the part most signally failed in making it 
other than a galvanic attempt to resuscitate a dead 
body. Now that the actor master of the art has gone, 
who will rule the stage and sustain its classic character ? 
Not Edwin Booth ; he has not the physical or mental 
capacity. Who can now take the lead in the rank of 
actors ? who assume the sceptre ? who wear the crown ? 
There is one man, and the only man who, if he knew 
his own worth as we know and appreciate it, whose name 
should now become the synonom of Edwin Forrest, 
and that man is E. L. Davenport, the best living actor 
on the stage. Let us return to " Kichelieu." 

As we have said, it is not necessary to call attention 
to those beauties with which this play is studded, and 
which Mr. Forrest displayed with so much power, skill 
and judgment. His rendition of the wily Cardinal 
will ever be remembered as one of his greatest stage 
productions. Who can ever forget the great scene 
where Baradas, insisting on Julia s obedience to the 
king s command to return to the palace, exclaims : 

" Ay, is it so ? 

Then wakes the power, which in the age of iron, 
Burst forth to curb the great, and raise the low. 
Mark, where she stands, around her form I draw 
The awful circle of our solemn church ! 
Set but a foot within that holy ground, 
And on thy head yea, though it wore a crown 
I launch the curse of Rome ! 

Baradas. I dare not brave you ! 
I do but speak the orders of my king. 
The church, your rank, power, very word, my lord, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 185 

Suffice you for resistance : blame yourself, 
If it should cost you power ! 

Richelieu. That s my stake ! Ah! 

Dark gamester I wTiat is tMne ! Look to it well 
Lose not a trick. By this same hour to-morrow 
Thou shalt have France, or I thy head 1 " 

His startling energy of this passage our readers will 
well remember, and the applause which invariably fol 
lowed. Again, when overhearing Baradas sneeringly 
whisper : 

"His mind 
And life are breaking fast," 

he cries alou(>, while his aged frame trembles with 
excess of rage : 

" Irreverent ribald ! 

If so, beware the falling ruins ! Hark ! 
I tell thee, scorner of these whitening hairs, 
When this snow melteth there shall come a flood ! 
Avaunt ! my name is Richelieu I defy thee ! 
Walk blindfold on ; behind thee stalks the headsman, 
Ha ! ha ! how pale he is ! Heaven save my country I " 

We need not speak of the denouement of this play, 
as the masterly performance of Mr. Forrest invested 
the whole with an interest no other actor ever gave it. 
Richelieu died out with this great actor. 

The remark was made, when Macready and others 
performed Richelieu, that the play was not an acting 
one, and gave as an excuse for their failure that it was 
better adapted to the closet than the stage. It was 
not until Mr. Forrest enacted the part, and by his pow 
erful genius transferred to the stage the life-like visions 
the gifted author had set in letters of gold, that these 
wonderful critics discovered the difference between true 
art and false conception. Forrest took the play from 
their hands, and showed to the world the power of 
dramatic art, how it could conjure up the mighty dead, 
and bid the long-laid spirits stalk show the " swelling 



186 LIFE OF EDWIN FORBEST. 

triumph and the curtained crime " made " slumber 
ing kings his mighty voice obey/ and Richelieu s 
greatness subdue a king and foil his foes. 



CHAPTER XV. 

HAMLET. - ORIGIN OF THE TRAGEDY. - THE ORIGINAL 
HAMLET. - ACTORS GREAT IN THE PART. - CRITI 
CISM ON KEMBLE. - WILLIAM B. WOOD. - MR. FOR- 

REST S HAMLET. HAMLET S INSANITY. WILLIAM 

A. CONWAY. 



rriHIS great tragedy has long been a fruitful sub- 
-*- ject for critics, and some of our best writers have 
exercised their talents and displayed much erudition in 
their endeavors to prove Shakespeare was all wrong in 
his conception of the character of Hamlet. 

ORIGIN OF THE TRAGEDY. 

A drama of the same name and subject as the pres 
ent, is supposed to have been exhibited before the year 
1589; and Malone imagined that Shakespeare only 
altered it, using likewise the black-letter "Historic of 
Hamblett." The story itself was originally derived from 
the " Historic Danicse " of Saxo Grammaticus ; trans 
lated by Belleforest in his Novels, and rendered into 
English in the above narrative. 

Dr. Percy s copy of Speght s edition of Chaucer, 
once belonged to Gabriel Harvey, who had written his 
name at both the commencement and conclusion, with 
the date of 1598, and several notes between ; one of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 187 

which was "The younger sort take much delight in 
Shakespeare s Venus and Adonis, but his Lucrece, and 
his Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, have it 
in them to please the wiser sort/ The original com 
position of Hamlet is therefore placed in 1597, with 
revisions and additions to 1600. The earliest entry of 
it at Stationers Hall, is July 26th, 1602, and a copy of 
the play in its imperfect state, dated 1603, and sup 
posed to have been printed from a spurious original, 
was first discovered in the beginning of 1825. Another 
edition appeared in 1604, " newly imprinted and en 
larged, to almost as much again as it was ; " the varia 
tions in which are both numerous and striking. 

In 1771, Garrick produced this tragedy at Drury 
Lane, all the parts being sacrificed to that of Hamlet ; 
but after his death the original was restored, and the 
modern adaptation is that by John P. Kemble, brought 
out at Drury Lane, in 1800, and at Covent Garden, in 
1804. The scene of Hamlet is at the Castle and Court 
of Elsinoir, and the action apparently occupies some 
months. The story is entirely fabulous, and is placed 
by Saxo at an impossible period of antiquity ; but per 
haps it may be safely referred to the end of the tenth, 
or the beginning of the eleventh century, during the in 
vasions of England by the Danes ; to which period Mr. 
Planche has adapted the series of historical costumes 
prepared for it, for Covent Garden, in 1825. 

The original Hamlet was Kichard Burbage. Jo 
seph Taylor, instructed by Shakespeare to play Ham 
let, and from the remembrance of his performance Sir 
William Duvencent is said to have instructed Better- 
ton. Following these, who were celebrated in the part, 
are the names of Barton Booth, (this gentleman was 



188 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

celebrated as Othello, and Hamlet, and the original 
Cato,) David Garrick, John P. Kemble, Young, G. F. 
Cooke, Edmund Kean, William Macready, Thomas 
A. Cooper, Lucius Junius Booth, William A. Conway, 
EDWIN FORREST, James 13. Murdock, E. L. Daven 
port and Edwin Booth. Although we have given the 
names of those who were distinguished in the part, 
still several of them were open to severe and just criti 
cism. A misconception of the character has invariably 
lessened the claims of an actor to be considered the 
Hamlet of Shakespeare s creation. 

The idea of Hamlet being a genuine madman, sel 
dom enters the mind of an actor, in consequence of 
which they labor under a perplexity to impersonate or 
illustrate the character satisfactorily to the audience. 
Whether the great Kemble took this view of the men 
tal condition of Hamlet or not, can only be judged by 
the criticism written at the time. William B. Wood, 
who witnessed his representation of it in London, only 
speaks of the effect the Ghost scene had upon him, and 
when we questioned him more closely upon that gen 
tleman s manners and style, he said: "His interview 
with the Ghost made me shudder ; his look of horror, 
as he gazed upon the shadowy form before him, com 
municated itself to the house, for that gaze invested 
the spirit with all the attributes of the grave." 

Mr. Wood s admiration of Kemble did not extend 
beyond the interview with the Ghost. We remember 
distinctly, when we asked why he never essayed the 
part, he said: "By G d, sir, there is no man now 
living who can play it." 

Another critic, not quite so enthusiastic as Mr. 
Wood, speaking of Kemble s Hamlet, said : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 189 

"Again, before the performance of the play, where his 
assumed character is to be of more service to him, he meets 
Ophelia, and, wishing probably to deepen the impression 
of his madness on the minds of the Court, he speaks inco 
herently, indeed, but sometimes in a strain of melancholy 
truth and sound advice to this fair lady. During all 
these scenes we think Hamlet is more in sorrow than in 
anger, whereas Mr. JKemble makes him bang a door on 
one side, half bursts? lock on the other, insult Ophelia by 
a most exalted tone of voice, and, indeed, out-herod 
Herod. 

" Mr. Elliston emphasized the word my. The writer 
on Kemble says the emphasis should be placed on sins? 
although he admits the possibility of my being correct. 

" Mr. Kemble reads this line, Great pith and moment, 
Great pitch and moment. The writer goes on to say 
that Mr. Kemble wanted to conciliate the galleries ; but 
as he gives no reason why, we presume he pitched into 
new reading." 

Hallam, who was the first to play Hamlet in the 
Colonies, although young at the time (1761), had wit 
nessed Garrick s inimitable acting in this part, and the 
remembrance of which added materially to the cause 
of his success. 

Cooper subsequently became the Hamlet of the 
American stage. Fennell had also achieved success in 
the part. Conway subsequently made or rather cre 
ated a great sensation in the character of Hamlet, from 
the fact of giving it a shadow of himself, whose melan 
choly tone of mind subsequently resulted in his death. 
Of Mr. Edwin Forrest s Hamlet, it is said by the ablest 
critics, that he was the best reader of the part of any 
who ever attempted it in this country. 

Forrest had Cooper for his classic model, who was 
the Demosthenes of the drama, and so well did he study 
in that school, that he, in time, became its Talma. 

Kean was its Raphael in producing picturesque 



190 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

grandeur, and its Garrick in impassioned eloquence. 
Mr. Forrest, young as he was then, with these eminent 
actors before him, the idols of the people, saw at a 
glance that the great secret of their success was their 
mental quality ; it was the mind that gave vigor, grace 
and beauty to their limbs, fire to ^heir eyes and classic 
beauty to their impersonations. Alere physique was 
nothing to be compared to intellect. 

He did not, as many of our young actors do, study 
the mere personal peculiarities of their model, and also 
certain intonations and nasal imperfections of the voice, 
leaving the mental quality entirely out of the question ; 
he studied the latter, and after mastering all its diffi 
culties, he soon made the mere mechanical yield to the 
master spirit mind. 

His "bold brow" bore the scars of mental labor, the 
thoughts of years, " not their decrepitude/ while that 
of others bore the scars of mental failure, leaving the 
physique a barren waste. Study makes the body rich, 
its want 

" The leafless desert of the mind, 
The waste of feelings unemployed." 

Many actors of the modern school are idealists ; 
that is, they are unable to draw the line of distinction 
between a bodiless substance, and objects which are the 
immediate emanations of the mind. These are called 
ideas which give form and figure to shapeless matter. 

Mr. Forrest s conception and rendition of Hamlet 
were those of a close student and a finished artist. It 
was a triumphant refutation of the sneers of those who 
called him a mere physical actor. There is a certain 
class of idealists to whom matter is a great bugbear. 
They measure a man s mental calibre by his weight 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEKEST. 191 

in the scales. In the eyes of these critics, the very 
qualities which commend an artist to the many, are 
so many blemishes. 

Mr. Forrest s delineation of character was not given 
hastily or carelessly ; there was a startling finish in all 
he undertook, which left a favorable impression ever 
afterward. His dying scenes were death s protraitures. 
There is nothing more difficult in the whole range of 
dramatic art than are its death scenes. Mr. Forrest in 
vested them with a solemn reality ; they were sublime 
(if we may use the word) pictures, which made the 
sense of death more in apprehension than the sup 
posed horror attending it. 

In the art gallery of the stage there are many stri 
king pictures. There we see Mr. Forrest as Othello. 
There we see him as Damon, in all his Roman grand 
eur, Damon in his agony, Damon in his triumph. 
There we see him as Virginias, Coriolanus, Macbeth, 
King Lear, Richelieu, Jack Cade, The Gladiator, Met- 
amora, etc. These glorious pictures are now the proud 
est in the histrionic gallery, and will never grow dim 
while the image of him who gave them life lives in our 
memory. 

The first time we witnessed Mr. Forrest s Hamlet, 
was at the old Chestnut Street Theatre, in 1827. He 
was then but twenty- one years of age ! What could 
be expected of one so young ? And yet it was a beau 
tiful but not a philosophical Hamlet. He had studied 
it carefully from an acting copy, and took the accepted 
notion of Hamlet s assuming a madness, instead of 
making that assumption a phase in his actual insanity. 
Hamlet, after the interview with his father s spirit, has 
announced his probable intent to " bear himself strange 



192 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

and odd, and put an antic disposition on." This is very 
well ; but how is it that in the opening soliloquy he 
meditates suicide, having no other cause than the mar 
riage of his mother with his uncle. To one so young, 
surrounded with everything to please his taste as well 
as his ambition, is this marriage a sufficient cause for 
suicide, or even its contemplation ? Dark thoughts 
of self-destruction enters his mind, and he exclaims : 

" O that this too, too solid flesh would melt, 
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew. 
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed 
His canon gainst self-slaughter." 

Thus it will be seen that the mind of Hamlet was 
diseased, and a deep-settled melancholy had taken full 
possession of his mind. We have said this much here, 
because in all our subsequent articles on this great play, 
we invariably had occasion to trace the failure of actors 
in this part, to their mixing the real insanity of Hamlet 
with his simulating it in after scenes, which is in fact 
but another shade of the mad fiend s " wing flapping 
o er his head." Space will not permit us to enter 
more fully into the metaphysical, or, as Shakespeare 
rendered it, super -natur alia , character of Hamlet, but 
we will give the Prince s own words. After a long 
spell of insanity he comes to his senses, and says, 
when he takes the hand of Laertes, previous to the 
trial of skill with foils : 

Hamlet. " Give me your pardon, sir ; I ve done you wrong ; 
But pardon it, as you are a gentleman. 
This presence knows, and you must needs have heard, 
How I am punish d with a sore distraction. 
What I have done 

That might your nature, honor, and exception, 
Roughly awake, / here proclaim was madriess. 
Was t Hamlet wrong d Laertes ? Never, Hamlet. 
If Hamlet from himself be ta en away, 
And when he s not himself does wrong Laertes, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 193 

Then Hamlet does it not. Hamlet denies it. 
Who does it then r* His madness. If t be so, 
Hamlet is of the faction that is wrong d ; 
His madness is poor Hamlet s enemy. 
Sir, in this audience 

Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil 
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts, 
That I have shot mine arrow o er the house 
And hurt my brother." 

This we think unquestionable authority, and to the 
psychologist has left nothing to be desired, having, as 
we think, established Hamlet s real madness. 

It was not until many years afterward, that Mr. 
Forrest s Hamlet soared above all the other Hamlets 
of the day, for his illustration of the character from 
a mad-point of view, rendered it not only perfectly 
plain, but satisfactory to the audience. 

We spoke of Mr. Forrest s Hamlet in 1827, some 
what freely, and alluded to several passages as being 
given, not only too rapidly, but with an imperfect 
knowledge of the author s meaning. 

To one of these we will allude here, as it is con 
nected with a very pleasing incident which occurred 
in his library a short time before his death. One of 
the passages we criticised at that time (1827) was the 
manner he rendered this passage : 

" I ll call thee Hamlet ! 
King ! Father ! Royal Dane ! Oh, answer me ! " 

He gave it thus : 

" I ll call thee Hamlet ! 
King ! Father ! Royal Dane, answer me ! " 

Hamlet knows not by what gracious or acceptable 
title to salute the spectre ; it comes in such a question 
able shape, that he addresses it by the several appella 
tive terms which distinguished his father while living. 
" Royal Dane " is used precisely in the same sense as 



194 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

are those of the others ; indeed, it is a vocative 
climax. Being so, it should read as we have given 
it above. Several errors of a youthful construction on 
the text of Shakespeare marked Mr. Forrest s first at 
tempt of Hamlet, all of which, with one exception, 
he long since corrected, and that one he maintained 
to the last. 

We have in one or more instances alluded to MR. 
WILLIAM A. CONWAY, in connection with Hamlet. We 
will speak of him here. In the year 1823, this gentle 
man made his first appearance in America. He was 
the first actor we ever witnessed in the character of 
Hamlet wlio made us feel uncomfortable; for it seemed 
then, to our youthful imagination, as if he himself had 
the cue for passion that Hamlet had. We do not say 
it was a great performance, but it had that about it 
which impressed the audience with the painful idea 
that the actor, as well as the hero of the play, was mad ! 
Subsequent events in the life of this gentleman, result 
ing in a melancholy death, fully sustained this impres 
sion. Mr. Conway was of the Fennell school ; his per 
son tall and commanding, and he possessed the rare 
merit of being a most elegant scholar and reader. The 
celebrated speech commencing with, " To be or not to 
be," etc., as given by him, seemed as if he intended to 
make his quietus then and there. During its delivery 
the audience seemed lost in wonder, not so much from 
the beautiful reading, but from a painful feeling he 
created that he was fearfully in earnest. This was the 
impression it made upon us it was a thrilling delinea 
tion of a phase of insanity under which the actor him 
self was laboring. Mr. Conway s temperament, added 
to a morbid state of mind, rendered him fully capable 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 195 

of grasping the peculiar elements of which the character 
of Hamlet is composed ; for those who assume sorrow, 
or affect grief, in general overact the part, because their 
natures do not assimilate with that of the character. 
We would not have our Hamlet s mad, but we would 
have them so to represent the part as to make that 
appear natural, which in less skilful hands, would seem 
quite the reverse. Tacitus uses this phrase when 
speaking of this class: " Nulli jactantius moerent, 
quam qui maxime lactantur." 

The Hamlet of Mr. Conway was marked by a 
striking identification with the mental peculiarities as 
drawn by Shakespeare, investing it with all the at 
tributes that make up the real and imaginary wrongs 
under which Hamlet is supposed to labor. The whole 
of the interview with his mother was given in a most 
impassioned manner ; it was stern, decided, posi 
tive, but neither in the delivery of the words nor in 
his actions did he forget that she was his mother; 
and when he gave these lines, it was with a deep sense 
of a wrong inflicted upon him by her conduct, and 
he the only living person to show up that wrong, 
and check her further progress in crime : 

" Good-night ; but go not to my uncle s bed ; 
Assume a virtue, if you have it not. 
Once more good-night ! 
And when you are desirous to be blessed, 
I ll a blessing beg of you." 

We well remember with what enthusiasm this 
whole scene was received. If we are more favorably 
disposed towards the memory of Mr. Conway in this 
great character, it is because we have seen no one 
up to this period, who could melanclwlize the part 
to the extent he did. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

LATE AT KEHEARSAL. RICHELIEU IN A PASSION. 
AN AMUSING INCIDENT. THE EXCITED CRITIC. 
KING LEAR S WIG. ALMOST A DUEL. ANDREW 

JACKSON ALLEN. A SATISFACTORY EXCUSE. 

FORREST MEETS HIS MATCH. ROMAN CITIZENS. 
POWERFUL ACTING. 

"TOURING the years intervening between Mr. For- 
-*-^ rest s first and second professional visit to Eng 
land, he pursued with an artist s assiduity the duties 
of his dramatic career. It was a triumphant one ; he 
was everywhere greeted with applause, and the press, 
with but few exceptions, spoke highly of his perform 
ances. Before we follow him to England, we propose 
to relate a few anecdotes and incidents connected with 
the theatre during his starring engagements. 

An old writer has said, "If you have anything 
worth communicating in return, I hope you will not 
refuse the trouble of giving me the intelligence ; not 
only as we are all of us rationally fond, you know, of 
news, but because interesting anecdotes afford ex 
amples which may be of use in respect to our own 
conduct." 

LATE AT REHEARSAL. 

Many acts of kindness, blended with the Divine 
attribute, charity, are daily performed by men of 

(196) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 197 

wealth, of which the world is not advised. In almost 
every case of this kind which came under our knowl 
edge, in connection with Mr. Forrest, it was the desire 
of that gentleman that publicity should not be given. 
We shall have occasion hereafter to speak of his chari 
ties; in the mean time we give "Late at Rehearsal." 

On one occasion Mr. Forrest was fulfilling an en 
gagement in New York ; the morning rehearsal of an 
important play was delayed some time by the non- 
arrival of one of the company. The part he had in the 
piece was a minor one, but very important to the actor, 
particularly in the first act. Mr. Forrest became im 
patient ; he walked up and down the stage in no very 
mild humor the manager and the company very un 
easy. At last the truant came a quiet, gentlemanly 
man, heretofore remarkable for close attention to busi 
ness and rehearsals. Mr. Forrest, much excited, ad 
dressed him : " Sir, you have kept these ladies and 
gentlemen waiting a full half hour. You cannot be 
ignorant, sir, of the importance of a rehearsal in which 
every member of the company take part/ At that 
moment the actor raised his eyes and met those of 
Mr. Forrest they were watery grief was visible in 
every varying expression of his face. Forrest stopped 
he could not add another word. The actor spoke : 
" Mr. Forrest, I ask your pardon. I I could not 
come sooner ; " here tears came into his eyes. " I 
have met with a serious loss. My son my only son 
died last night. I I hurried here as soon as I 
could, and " 

" Say no more," was the actor s reply. He knew 
the man to be poor, with a family ; he also knew him 
to be correct in his habits. His anger was gone. 



198 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" Step aside, sir ; I wish to speak to you/ was the 
great actor s answer to the sad cause of the man s 
absence. " You have no business here ; go home im 
mediately; we will endeavor to get on without you, 
and take this from one who sympathizes in your grief." 
So saying, he slipped a fifty dollar note into his hand. 
Then turning suddenly round, exclaimed in a loud 
voice : " Let us go on with the rehearsal." 

RICHELIEU IN A PASSION. 

Forrest was once playing an engagement at Pitts- 
burg. Already dressed for the character of Kichelieu, 
he was in the act of going on the stage in the first 
scene, when he discovered that the sleeve of the dress 
he wore was either too short or drawn up ; he called to 
his dresser, and told him to pull the sleeve down, so as 
the lace frill would show. The man commenced pull 
ing the robe instead of the under-sleeve, when Forrest, 
in a loud voice, exclaimed : " Hell and fury ! what are 

you about ? The under-sleeve, d n you." Being 

near the first entrance, he was heard in front, and a 
round of applause followed the audience imagining 
it part of the play. "What are they applauding $ " 
exclaimed Forrest. The prompter promptly replied : 
" Your first speech, sir, off the stage." 

AN AMUSING INCIDENT. 

The following pleasing dramatic incident has been 
given in connection with more "Bella s " than one. It 
actually occurred, however no matter who the 
" Bolla " was on the occasion. 

" Some years ago, when the play of Rolla was very 
popular, the manager found it very difficult to procure a 
child to play a part in that piece, which the reader well re- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 199 

members is essential to its interest and final tableau. Hav 
ing on one occasion procured a smart, intelligent child, by 
sundry presents and kind promises, it was inducted in its 
new vocation, and during rehearsal, promised fair to make 
a decided hit at night. Among the presents was a pair of 
red shoes, of which the little thing was extremely proud. 
At night everything went on well. In the first act the 
child is placed on the stage by its mother, who rushes out 
when she hears her husband s (Alonzo s) voice; two sol 
diers then enter and carry the child off to Pizarro s camp. 
Some delay having occurred, these two soldiers did not 
come in time, and the child looking round and wondering 
what it was all about, proudly walked down to the foot 
lights, then putting out her feet, exclaimed : Look at my 
pretty red shoes. The audience looked and shouted. The 
child, somewhat alarmed at this note of admiration, started 
and ran back just in time to be carried off by the two 
tardy soldiers. The applause continued for some time. 
That child made a hit." 

THE EXCITED CRITIC. 

On one occasion, while playing Virginius in a Wes 
tern city, he noticed a man in the pit who seemed to 
enter into the spirit of the play by his never taking his 
eyes off the actor, watching his every motion with an 
earnestness that made Virginius feel uncomfortable. 
In the fifth act, when Virginius kills Virginia in the 
market-house, the house was perfectly spell-bound. 
The man in the pit manifested considerable emotion ; 
he would start up and clutch his hands, thus attracting 
the attention of those around him. 

At last, when Virginius returns to his home, mind 
distraught, and calls for his daughter, " Virginia, Vir 
ginia," in a broken voice, the man in the pit started up 
in actual fury, and shouted out : " You killed her in 
the market house, you d d villain ! " 

This was too much for the house. One loud shout 



200 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

testified its appreciation of the critic s judgment, as 
well as his manner of expressing it. Forrest left. 

The following incident connected with Mr. Forrest s 
Lear, is thus related by T. H. Morrell, Esq., New York, 
November 20th, 1872 : 

" About eighteen years ago, Mr. Forrest was playing an 
engagement at the old Broadway Theatre, near Anthony 
Street, their duration generally extending from fifty to sev 
enty-five consecutive nights, and at that time considered a 
feat unparalleled in the annals of the stage. One night, 
while performing the role of King Lear, with Barry, Con- 
way, Davidge, Whiting, Madame Ponisi, Mrs. Abbott and 
other well known favorites in the cast, in the last scene of 
the second act, when depicting the frenzy of the noble old 
monarch, whose brain was overwrought with passion, and 
maddened by the injuries of his unnatural daughters, G-one- 
ril and Regan, in the excitement of the moment Mr. For 
rest tore the wig of whitened hair from his head and 
hurled it some twenty feet towards the footlights. The 
effect was a striking one, and the wig thus removed re 
vealed to the audience a head of glossy raven locks, form 
ing a strange contrast to the hoary beard still appended, 
and fastened by a white cord to the actor s chin. The 
situation was one that on an ordinary occasion would have 
caused embarrassment both to actor and spectator, but not 
so there. Among that vast audience not a single titter 
could be heard, and scarce a smile was discernible. En 
chained, enraptured by the mighty master s art, 

* A man of kingly stature and of kingly voice, 

delineating to the perfect life a mightier master s genius, 
two thousand silent listeners still gazed with eyes be- 
dimmed upon the mimic scene before them. Nor did the 
pause or actor hesitate. Still did that voice, superbly 
grand, so rich in infinite pathos and of beauty the most 
remarkable for compass, melody and power of any on the 
stage speak forth in anguish and in sorrow, that fierce 
denunciation of the outraged king and father. Nearly 
two decades have passed away since that memorable en 
gagement, and the old Broadway is among the scenes 
that were, as are also two other temples of the drama, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 201 

in which the veteran so often delighted the thousands 
who thronged to witness those characters in which he 
alone was capable of presenting the finest examples of 
feeling, dramatic passion and artistic beauty." 

ALMOST A DUEL. 

Playing Claude Melnotte out West, he found, as 
usual, much difficulty with actors at rehearsal. A 
young man who played an important part, disputed 
his business with the great actor with much spirit, say 
ing : "I have as much right to my opinion, or the part 
I have to play, as you have, sir." 

" Indeed/ exclaimed Forrest, " and who are you, 
sir ? " 

"A gentleman." 

" Indeed, I am glad to hear it." 

" Probably," replied the young man, " for it is sel 
dom you associate with them." 

This was too much for Forrest ; he burst out in 
great fury, and in no measured terms expressed his 
opinion of the gentleman. 

The young man made no other reply than quietly 
remarking : "Ladies are present, and I never use im 
proper language or bluster before them." Bowing, he 
left the stage. 

After the rehearsal was over, and Forrest started to 
the hotel where he was stopping, the first person he 
met was the actor in question. 

" A word with you, Mr. Forrest." 

".I have no time, sir." 

" Then take time ; for what I have to say to you 
requires both time and attention. You insulted me, 
sir insulted me in the presence of ladies, and I here 
demand an apology." 



202 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" Apology ? " 

" Yes, sir ; for insulting me. I never submit to an 
insult, and you have to apologize or fight me. You 
may say I am but an actor so are you and being an 
actor, I claim also that of the character of a gentle 
man." 

" Well, sir, suppose I refuse ? " 

" Then I insult you here in the open street man 
to man. Sir, I am your equal in strength and science." 

Forrest looked in astonishment upon the young 
man, who stood so boldly up before him ; he admired 
his spirit and gentlemanly manner ; he found he had to 
deal with a man, and his better nature acknowledged it. 

" Well, sir, I will accept your challenge. It is my 
misfortune to meet so many of the profession, ignorant 
of their duties, in my travels, that the violence of my 
temper not unfrequently gets the better of my judg 
ment/ 

" This, Mr. Forrest, is almost an apology/ 

" No, it is not not sufficient bring with you to 
my hotel as many of those whom you may wish to con 
sult, before we meet in deadly strife, and who were 
present on the occasion. You shall have satisfaction, 
and ample ; it shall never be said that I wronged a 
man unjustly." 

It is unnecessary to say that the whole matter was 
amicably arranged, and that Mr. Forrest made a foe a 
friend. It was after this scene Mr. Forrest relaxed 
most wonderfully from his old violence of temper and 
manner. Forrest was an excellent story-teller, and 
liked nothing better than to tell the following anec 
dote in the green-room, if he found all the ladies 
of the company assembled. In his hotel, in St. Louis, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 203 

there was a colored barber who always shaved Mr. 
Forrest, and was an intense admirer of the great tra 
gedian. While performing his functions one morning, 
the following conversation ensued : 

"We s going to play Othello, to-night, Massa 
Forrest." 

" We ? Who do you mean ? " 

"Me, sar, an de oder colored gemmen. I wish 
you d come and see us, sar." 

" Well, perhaps I would if I had time. Where do 
you play ? " 

"Down in the servants hall, sar. We se got a 
good company." 

" Oh ! indeed. G-ood company, eh ? Are your ac 
tresses good ? " 

" Well, Massa Forrest, dat s just whar de trouble is. 
We ain t got no actresses." 

" No actresses ! " 

" Well, sar, we can t get no colored ladies to play 
on top of de stage." 

" Why not ? " 

" Well, sar, dey won t do it ; they tinks it so 
degrading, sar." 

Mr. Forrest always told this with immense point, 
and thoroughly enjoyed the indignation with which the 
actresses invariably received it. 

THE GERMAN DESDEMONA. 

On one occasion Forrest was playing an engage 
ment out West. The company was limited in numbers, 
and the leading actress was of German extraction and 
had not as yet mastered the English language ; nor 
had she the least idea of the characters, particularly 



204 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

those of Shakespeare, in which she appeared. On the 
occasion of- his playing Othello, this lady of course, 
took that of Desdemona. Forrest s description of this 
performance, as frequently told when he was " in the 
vein/ was rich beyond expression, exaggerated to a cer 
tain extent ; yet he said the main features were strictly 
true. In the scene where she is sent for to corroborate 
Othello s story of his love and whole course of wooing, 
when her father says : 

" Come hither, gentle mistress. 
Do you perceive in all this noble company 
Where you most owe obedience ? " 

She answered him thus : 

" My noble fader, I do see here many peoples, 
You are my fader ; I owe you much duty, 
Mine life, and education, and all dese things. 
But dare is mine husband, dat black man ; 
I likes him de most, I prefers him to you all the 
time. Ha ha." 

So saying, she made a rush at the Moor and nearly 
upset him ; she clung to him, uttering ha ha. The 
audience was delighted, for the actress was a great 
favorite. 

As Forrest intended to play Macbeth, he was very 
much worried about his Lady Macbeth ; there was no 
one to play it but this lady. He waited upon her to 
talk the matter over; he asked her if she had ever 
played Lady Macbeth. 

" Eh, who is de lady, eh ? I never knew her 
never played her." 

"Did you never hear of the great play of Macbeth, 
by William Shakespeare ? " 

" Eh, me do know him ; but I will soon learn d6 
part ; fetch it to me, I learn it." 

" My dear madame, if you have never played the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 205 

part, nor heard of the play, it would take months to 
do so it is no common character." 

" Eh, common ? me no play common characters." 

" You misunderstand me ; this is a great character 
one that requires months and years of study. We 
will change the play to something else." 

"No ! me play Macbeth ; I learn her in three days, 
eh?" 

Forrest would not risk it, to the lady s great sur 
prise, saying, " Me learn her in three days, eh ? " 

TEACHING A PROMPTER A LESSON. 

On one occasion, while acting Claude Melnotte at 
the old National Theatre, Philadelphia (where the 
Continental Hotel now stands), and while that estab 
lishment was under the management of Wemyss & 
Oxley, he exposed the prompter, Mr. Collingbourne, in 
a most emphatic manner. It is perhaps necessary to 
apprise the reader that all letters which are read upon 
the stage during a performance are previously written 
by the prompter. By some mistake, on this occasion, 
the "written letter" which Beauseant sends to Mel 
notte in the first act got mislaid, and the servant in 
the piece brought on to Mr. Forrest a blank document. 
The tragedian opened it as usual, and instead of find 
ing the words, " Young man, I know thy secret, etc., 
etc.," he found a spotless piece of foolscap. Forrest 
rushed up the stage furiously, and hurling the dumb 
missive at the servant s head, exclaimed, " Bring me a 
written letter !" There was considerable of a "stage 
wait" before the proper letter could be found, and the 
audience was greatly amazed and annoyed at the sud 
den interruption of the scene and the actor s anger. 



206 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Poor Collingbourne afterwards confessed that he was 
" frightened out of his wits." 

ANDREW JACKSON ALLEN. 

This individual, better know as " Dummy Allen/ 
travelled with Mr. Forrest on his professional tour as 
his " costumer." He was born in New York, December, 
1776. In 1787, he appeared as a child in the John 
Street Theatre, New York, from which circumstance he 
boasted being the paternal parent of the Histrionic 
tribe. He was attached to various theatres in New 
York in subordinate situations. He was connected 
with the National Theatre in 1838, and in 1852, he 
took a benefit at the Lyceum, Broadway. Allen was 
very deaf, and consequently very annoying to those 
with whom he played, who not unfrequently took an 
unkind revenge on his misfortune, by misleading him 
with an inaudible movement of the lips during the per 
formance, to which he thought he must reply, his 
speeches being often quite mat-apropos. On one oc 
casion, when an actor s lips seemed to move beyond the 
cue by which he was to reply, he exclaimed aloud : 
" What is all this ? Are you going to do all the talk 
ing? Stop, or I ll go off the stage." The audience 
roared with laughter. 

Allen possessed a patent for the manufacture of 
gold and silver leather, much used upon stage costume. 
He died in New York, October, 30th, 1853. 

The name of Andrew Jackson Allen, with the ex 
ception of his paternal appellation, was entirely gratui 
tous. He was a great admirer of the general. During 
Mr. Forrest s professional visit to Europe, Allen accom 
panied him as his costumer. On one occasion a dinner 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 207 

was given by some of the minor actors of the theatre, 
to which Allen was invited. In reply to a toast com 
plimentary to America, Allen rose and made some re 
marks, in the course of which he spoke of " the Boy" 
as the greatest actor of the age. " Where/ he shouted, 
" is there another to equal him ? Where/ he ex 
claimed in high tragic notes, " will you find him ? " 
An excited individual, carried away by the eloquence 
of the speaker, shouted out: "Hear! hear!" -It is 
customary in England, when anything good or startling 
is said by the speaker, for the audience to cry, "Hear ! 
hear ! " 

Allen, taking the words literally, shouted in return : 
" Where ? Show me the man ! " 

" Hear ! hear !" was heard from several voices. 

"Where?" roared Allen; "where is he. Show 
me the man ; bring him up." 

" Hear ! hear ! " 

" Where ? " 

" Hear ! hear ! " resounded through the room. 

As soon as they discovered that Allen misunder 
stood them, they kept up the excitement until Allen, 
becoming enraged at not seeing the equal to Forrest, 
rushed from the room, exclaiming : "I should like to 
see the man that can beat the " Boy." 

On another occasion, at some festival given to Mr. 
Forrest, Allen was present, and becoming very loqua 
cious, the great tragedian said to him : " Come, come, 
Allen, you had better go home and attend to your 
silver leather" (a theatrical decoration upon which Mr. 
Allen prided himself as the inventor). At this remark, 
it is said the Great American Costumer, as he styled 
himself, rose up indignant, and banging his hat upon 



208 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

his head, stammered out " B-B what ud your Bacbeth 
or Kichard be bidout by silber leather/ An impedi 
ment in Allen s speech, and his indignant manner, 
created an uproarious scene. 

A SATISFACTOKY EXCUSE. 

Mr. Forrest was once playing in Richmond, Ya., 
when one of the minor actors annoyed him terribly by 
persisting in reading his few lines in Richelieu incor 
rectly. Forrest showed him several times how to do 
it, but to no purpose, and then commenced abusing 
him. " Look here, Mr. Forrest," finally said the poor 
fellow, in sheer despair, " if I could read it in that way 
I wouldn t be getting six dollars a week here." Forrest 
said only : " You are right ; I ought not to expect 
much for that sum," and left him alone, but on the 
conclusion of the engagement sent him a check for 
forty dollars, with a recommendation to act up to the 
worth of that. 

MR. FORREST MEETS HIS MATCH. 

To use a slang word, he was extremely apt to 
"bully" all in the theatre, from the manager down. 
But he once met his match. It was when he was play 
ing at the old Broadway Theatre, near Pearl Street. 
His pieces were followed by an exhibition of lions by 
their tamer, a certain Herr Driesbach. Forrest was 
one day saying that he had never been afraid in all 
his life could not imagine the emotion. Driesbach 
made no remark at the time, but in the evening, when 
the curtain had fallen, invited Forrest home with him. 
Forrest assented, and the two, entering a house, walked 
a long distance, through many devious passages, all 
dark, until finally Driesbach, opening a door, said : 



LIFE OF EDWIX FOEREST. 209 

"This way, Mr. Forrest." Forrest entered, and imme 
diately heard the door slammed and locked behind him. 
He had not time to express any surprise at this, for at 
the same moment he felt something soft rubbing 
against his leg, and, putting out his hand, touched 
what felt like a cat s back. A rasping growl saluted 
the motion, and he saw two fiery, glaring eyeballs 
looking up at him. " Are you afraid, Mr. Forrest ? " 
asked Driesbach, invisible in the darkness. "Not a 
bit." Driesbach said something ; the growl deepened 
and became hoarser, the back began to arch and the 
eyes to shine more fiercely. Forrest held out for two 
or three minutes ; but the symptoms became so terrify 
ing that he owned up in so many words that he was 
afraid. " Now let me out, you infernal scoundrel," 
he said to the lion-tamer ; "and I ll break every bone in 
your body." He was imprudent there, for Driesbach 
kept him, not daring to move a finger, with the lion 
rubbing against his leg all the time, until Forrest 
promised not only immunity, but a champagne supper 
into the bargain. 

ROMAN CITIZENS. 

Nearly every actor who has ever played with Mr. 
Forrest, has his own little anecdote to tell of Forrest s 
grim humor or scathing sarcasm, but such anecdotes 
mainly depend for appreciation upon an imitation of 
the tragedian s voice and manner. That Mr. Forrest 
had abundant humor of its kind no one can doubt. A 
remark of his made in Baltimore, a few years ago, has 
become famous as a stage tradition. Mr. Forrest s legs 
were a theme of great admiration to the world at large, 
and of no little pride to himself. The play was Vir- 
13 



210 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

ginius, and Mr. Forrest, in the costume of the Roman 
General, was standing at the wings in his usual firm 
attitude, and with his usual scornful smile gazing at 
the actors and supernumeraries standing on the stage. 
The lower limbs of the actors for the most part being 
plentifully padded, presented a respectable appearance, 
but the poor supers, being, as is usually the case in 
American theatres, mere overgrown boys, and having 
no pads, their limbs were ridiculous, and the fleshings 
with which they were covered being a world too wide 
for their shrunk shanks, their appearance roused the 
ire of Mr. Forrest. Mr. Ford, the manager, passing at 
the time, Forrest called his attention to the supers, 
and said : " Mr. Ford, for heaven s sake what are 
those?" "Those," said the manager, "are Roman 
citizens, Mr. Forrest/ " Roman citizens ! Ye Gods ! 
Did Romans have legs like those ?" 

The air of utter disgust attending the words was 
indescribable, and Forrest stalked on the stage as if he 
could devour the Roman citizens, legs and all. 

POWERFUL ACTING. 

The last almanac issued by the English theatrical 
paper known as the Era, gave some amusing but 
apocryphal anecdotes of- " powerful " American acting. 
On one occasion, Mr. Edwin Forrest, then a young man, 
gave a tremendous display of really powerful acting. 
He was supposed to represent a Roman warrior, and 
to be attacked by six minions of a detested tyrant. At 
the rehearsals, Mr. Forrest found a great deal of fault 
with the supers who condescended to play the minions. 
They were too tame. They didn t lay hold of him. 
They wouldn t go in as if it were a real fight. Mr. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 211 

Forrest stormed and threatened; the supers sulked 
and consulted. At length the captain of the supers in 
quired in his local slang, " Yer wan this to be a bully 
fight, eh ? " " I do/ replied Mr. Forrest. " All right/ 
rejoined the captain; and then the rehearsal quietly 
proceeded. In the evening the little theatre was 
crowded, and Mr. Forrest was enthusiastically received. 
When the fighting scene occurred, the great tragedian 
took the centre of the stage, and the six minions 
entered rapidly and deployed in skirmishing order. At 
the cue " Seize him ! " one minion assumed a pugilistic 
attitude, and struck a blow straight from the shoulder 
upon the prominent nose of the Koman hero, another 
raised him about six inches from the stage by a well- 
directed kick, and the others made ready to rush in for 
a decisive tussle. For a moment Mr. Forrest stood 
astounded, his broad chest heaving with rage, his great 
eyes flashing fire, his sturdy legs planted like columns 
upon the stage. Then came the few minutes of power 
ful acting, at the end of which one super was seen 
sticking head foremost in the bass drum in the or 
chestra, four were having their wounds dressed in the 
green-room, and one finding himself in the flies, rushed 
out upon the roof of the theatre, and shouted " Fire ! " 
at the top of his voice ; while Mr. Forrest, called 
before the curtain, bowed his thanks pantingly to the 
applauding audience, who looked upon the whole affair 
as part of the piece, and "had never seen Forrest act 
so splendidly." 



CHAPTER XVIT. 



SHAKESPEARE. THE TURKISH BATH. SHORT LET 
TER. INCIDENT IN AN INSANE ASYLUM. HERED 
ITARY GOUT. QUACK MEDICINE. 

WE are not about to speak of Mr. Forrest s medi 
cal knowledge as being derived from a Univer 
sity education and a regular course of study ; there was 
no diploma given, nor fees paid to professors. A knowl 
edge superficial, it is true may be attained of various 
diseases without devoting years to study. In the first 
place, he studied the various phases of insanity, vis 
ited asylums both in this country and in Europe, held 
frequent conversations with the celebrated Dr. Rush, 
and more recently with Dr. Gross, one of our most em 
inent physicians. He studied with an eye to render 
his knowledge available to his profession. It was this 
knowledge that made his King Lear, Hamlet, and Yir- 
ginius so great. The study of medicine is not, we 
think, a proper expression, at least in its application 
to Mr. Forrest we should say the study of man and 
it was here lie laid the foundation for his knowledge 
of the former by close study of the latter. Again, he 
had studied the anatomy of the human frame; he 
could talk well upon the subject; he had all the phys 
iological and technical terms at his tongue s end, and 

(212) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 213 

could hold " learned discourse" with men of science 
upon the subject. 

Mr. Forrest believed firmly in the power of elec 
tricity in curing many diseases, both by the battery, 
and by manipulation. He possessed great power himself, 
by bringing his influence to act upon a body weaker 
than his own. The writer of this found almost imme 
diate relief from a severe nervous headache under the 
manipulating power exercised upon him by Mr. Forrest. 

Mr. Forrest studied the insane characters of Shake 
speare from that great author s instructive physiological 
knowledge, as well as he did from those whom he vis 
ited in the asylums. What numerous texts did he 
find in Shakespeare to study ! In Macbeth, he found 
the cue to that monarch s acts ; in Lear, almost every 
phase of insanity, induced by old age, wrong and pas 
sion. In Hamlet, the monomania leading him to med 
itate suicide in fact, Shakespeare studied from this 
point furnishes the actor with all the traits essential 
to the proper rendition of the character. A writer, 
speaking upon this subject, says: "Upon no subjects, 
perhaps, has this extraordinary man (speaking of 
Shakespeare) been more curiously manifested than 
those of physiology and psychology. In fact, we be 
lieve a very complete physiological and psychological 
system could be educed from the writings of Shake- 
peare a system in complete accordance, in almost 
every essential particular with that which we now pos 
sess, as the result of the scientific research and expe 
rience of the last two centuries/ 

Our readers will observe, at least that portion who 
have carefully studied Shakespeare, a striking simi 
larity between that great author and the subject of 



214 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

these reminiscences. The latter, like the former, was 
a poor boy the one held horses at the theatre en 
trance, the other formed amateur companies, and be 
came an actor, as did the holder of horses; the one 
became a great author, the other a great actor ; the 
one wrote plays, and the other acted them. 

Although it did not require so many years of study, 
to make Forrest a great actor, as it did Shakespeare to 
become the master spirit of English literature, still it 
took both time and application to learn something of 
other professions to be as perfect in, as that of his own. 

Shakespeare, who never studied medicine as a sci 
ence, displays in his writings considerable knowledge 
of diseases to which the human system is subject. 
Dryden says : "In him we find all arts and sciences, 
all moral and natural philosophy, without knowing 
that he ever studied them." 

Shakespeare, as the young actor-poet, became the 
companion of gentlemen the teacher of a court, the 
delight of his sovereign, and the " darling of the 
nation." 

Forrest, at an early age became the companion of 
gentlemen, and at the age of fourteen, under their 
auspices, became the Roscius of the American stage. 

Shakespeare, it is said, was a butcher s boy a 
wool dealer and a glover s boy. Forrest was a ship-chan 
dler s boy, and a shop boy in a German notion house. 

Shakespeare was born in a pleasant English home, 
of good Protestant parents; he went to the village 
school and learned grammar. 

Forrest was born in a pleasant home, of good Pro 
testant parents ; he went to school and learned to read 
and write. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 215 

Shakespeare s heart was warmed by " sitting at 
gooclmen s feasts." 

Forrest s heart was warmed by sitting at a good 
mother s simple fare. 

What was said of Shakespeare can be said of For 
rest: "No matter what his struggles may have been 
while yet a young man, if he go through with honor 
and health untouched, his early trials would but add 
to the enjoyment of life in after years. But if in set 
ting out he chanced to be a little wild, he would all 
the more likely be made acquainted with a great va 
riety of strange people, and get a near view of their 
characters and habits." 

Our readers must understand that Mr. Forrest s 
knowledge of medicine, and the interest he took in the 
sufferings of others, was entirely of a philanthropic 
character. He had but one complaint, that of gout, 
and to the cure of which he devoted both time and 
money. 

Mr. Forrest placed great virtue in the Turkish 
bath, and had one made in his own house, to which he 
resorted, we often thought, too frequently for his 
health. In a letter he wrote to us on one occasion, 
wherein alluding to a portion of the one we had sent 
him, he says ; "I am sorry to hear that you still suffer 
from headache. Why cannot you be persuaded to try 
the efficacy of the Turkish bath, which equalizes the 
circulations of the body and purifies the blood more 
effectually than any medicine can do ? Try it first at 
a temperature of 140," etc., etc. 

I did not try it, and still live ! 

He read almost every book that came out on the 
subject of medicine, cures, etc. He had read numer- 



21G LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ous essays on gout and rheumatism. But neither the 
essays nor the doctors could drive the former from his 
system. He did not, however, generally lend himself 
to quacks, but on one occasion he did; the result of 
this man s nostrum came near killing him. The short 
est letter which Mr. Forrest probably ever wrote, was to 
request the writer to procure a certain book on medi 
cine for him, the merits and character of which we had 
been discussing. Here it is : 

"MONDAY NIGHT. 

"My DEAR MR. REES: Please get me the book. 
"Yours, "EDWDS" FORREST." 

We have said that Mr. Forrest, in studying Lear, 
visited insane asylums, and the " Old Man s Home," 
for the purpose of catching the peculiar traits of the 
"mind s disease," as well as the walk and actions of 
the aged. How admirably he carried out these sad 
phases of humanity on the stage we all know. 

Mere imitation, however, does not constitute origi 
nality in art ; in the language of criticism, it is called 
invention. Had Mr. Forrest merely imitated others, he 
never could have established a style of acting pecu 
liarly his own. For instance, had he followed others in 
their rendition of Lear, we should have had a mere 
copy instead of a great original. He went beyond 
Cooper s and Kean s views of the choleric King even 
back to those of a Shakespeare. To produce a great 
picture, he first studied the character, and then sought 
a model among the old men of our city. One he se 
lected a poor, aged, tottering creature fourscore and 
upwards, and whose peculiar walk and action he 
watched with an artist s eagerness. In the language 
of Dry den he said : "I have followed him everywhere, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKKEST. 217 

I know not with what success, but I am sure with dil- 
i^tnce enough ; my images are, many of them, copied 
from him, and the rest are imitations of him." [Pry- 
den; Letter I. Sir E. Howard. 

On one occasion, speaking of his visit to hospitals 
and insane asylums, he related a thrilling incident 
which occurred during his visit to one of these institu 
tions in Paris. 

Among the insane was a man whose whole appear 
ance and manners were those of a sane person. During 
the conversation with the keeper, he noticed the eyes 
of this man intensely fixed upon him. A pause occur 
ring in their discussion upon some point, the keeper 
turned his head for a moment ; in the next, Mr. Forrest 
found himself seized with maniac fury by the man with 
staring eyes, and thrown completely over his head ; it 
was the work of an instant; he had scarcely time 
stunned as he was to defend himself from the infu 
riate man, nor was it until two or three attendants 
arrived, that he could be secured. 

Mr. Forrest was well versed in homoeopathic cures, 
and could tell you what medicine was necessary to be 
taken for almost any disease. He was not, however, a 
convert to the system, although he occasionally took 
these sugared doses. Living as Mr. Forrest did, alone, 
the many dark hours of his dreary life no doubt had an 
effect upon his spirits. He did not court society ; 
hence the few who visited him were the old friends of 
his early days. To talk over past scenes, recall the 
reminiscences of youth, fight over again the mimic 
battles of the stage these visits seemed to give him 
new life ; his full, sonorous voice sounded through 
his library like the notes of some Cathedral organ 



218 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

there was music in it. The writer of this had frequent 
opportunities of noticing the rise and progress of his 
thermometer of health, and although it slightly varied, 
there were times when the indications would have 
puzzled the most scientific. 

One day, when he seemed unusually depressed, we 
asked him, very cautiously, however, if he did not, at 
times, suffer from a fullness of the head, as it had fre 
quently struck us that there were apparent symptoms 
of a determination of blood to that region. "Oh, no!" 
he said, "from here up/ pointing to the seat of the 
gout, "I am all right; were it not for this hereditary 
curse, I would be as well as ever." 

" Hereditary ? " I exclaimed. 

" Yes ; but not from my parents. But from my 
grandfather, it came down to the third generation ; 
hence the phrase, the sins you know the rest." 

Although we did not express it, the thought struck 
us that the victim in the third generation was the most 
likely to transmit it to his posterity. 

Our reason for asking the above question was that 
we had observed, more particularly a short time before 
his death, certain symptoms which we thought tended 
to apoplexy ; such as the stoppage of the flux and re 
flux of his spirits, as if the usual voluntary motion of 
the nerves was unnatural. At times his face would be 
flushed, at others pale and cadaverous. Again, he 
was all life and animation ; and at no time did he ap 
pear in better health than he did a few days before his 
death. And yet that insidious foe to man, apoplexy, 
in an instant did its fearful work. 

Mr. Forrest had collected a number of cures for 
various diseases ; and whenever he heard of a case for 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 219 

which he had an authenticated remedy, he either 
recommended it, or sent it to those afflicted. 

We think Mr. Forrest s attention was drawn to the 
study of medicine in consequence of his meeting so 
many passages in Shakespeare alluding to the science. 
In conversation with him upon the subject, we felt as 
sured that part of his study of medicine was based 
more upon curiosity than a desire to master its mys 
teries. We allude here to medicine generally ; for he 
studied the phases of insanity for a far different pur 
pose. Like many amateurs, more particularly those of 
the middle ages, the study of chemistry, and phar 
macy, excited his curiosity ; and those who were 
familiar with his dressing-room found a perfect labora 
tory ; and had he lived in the age of Alchemy and As 
trology, he would have been taken for an investigator 
of the visible phenomena of matter. And yet he could 
not tell you why and wherefore this vast collection of 
bottles was made, for what purpose, what object, be 
yond the remark " Merely for experiments ! " These 
he never tried upon himself internally, we know ; exter 
nally, some of them were used ; but with little or no 
effect for what they were intended, viz. : cure of the gout. 

We have shown a striking similarity between the 
youth of Shakespeare and of Forrest ; in age, this simi 
larity still existed ; and perhaps in no one more strik 
ing illustration, than that we have given in that of the 
study of medicine. He would frequently quote pas 
sages having some allusion to his own ailment ; as, for 
instance, when groaning under a severe attack of gout, 
he would exclaim : " I am like the owner of a foul dis 
ease. To keep it from divulging let it feed, even on 
the pith of life." 



220 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Any one conversant with Shakespeare knew full 
well that he never omitted an opportunity of rxhi bit 
ing his knowledge of other professions beside that of 
his own not egotistically given, but to carry out the 
peculiar characteristics of the personages of his dramas. 
With Mr. Forrest this peculiarity was equally discerni 
ble ; but, like Shakespeare, never displayed but in con 
nection with the philosophy of his art. Forrest had 
less vanity than any other actor that ever trod the stage. 

It may be said of Mr. Forrest as it was said of Shake 
speare ; " Let us, therefore, intelligently admire Shake 
speare s varied knowledge of the common affairs of life, 
by considering his vast capacity in connection with the 
fact that this knowledge of his, at which we are so 
much astonished, is of that kind and degree that comes 
from observation, and not by special study or daily 
practice/ 

Health and disease are questions of such impor 
tance, that it would be strange indeed if their phe 
nomena had found no place in Shakespeare s writings. 
Equally strange would it have been if Mr. Forrest, who 
suffered so much from an hereditary disease, had not 
bestowed some attention to the nature of the disorder 
by which he was afflicted. 

In striving to gain relief from recipes he came 
across, or in consequence of becoming interested in 
other diseases, apart from that of his own, he left 
behind him some very valuable recipes, among which 
is an invaluable one for the cure of " St. Vitus s 
dance " (Chorea.) 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

ENGLISH PREJUDICE AGAINST AMERICAN AUTHORS AND 
ACTORS. ORIGIN OF THEIR DRAMA, NOT AS LEGITI 
MATE AS OUR OWN. SOME ACCOUNT OF BOOTH S 

RECEPTION IN LONDON. FORREST S SECOND PRO 
FESSIONAL VISIT. ITS RESULT. 

TT is said that " genius knows no country," yet it has 
- been shown that prejudice gives it a locale when 
prejudice sways the judgment. England has always 
claimed the honor of giving birth to whatever genius 
and talent America imagined was indigenous to its soil. 
It is our purpose to speak more particularly of the 
stage and drama in this connection. It is true, their 
literary treasures have been accumulating from Alfred, 
Bede and Chaucer, through a succession of centuries, 
swelling up the vast catalogue of science with the most 
enlightened and intellectual names that have gilded the 
firmament of letters in any age or hemisphere. Ours 
can scarcely be estimated more than seventy years, and 
yet the origin of the English drama, springing as it 
did from the corruptions of the Catholic Church, with 
its Miracle plays, followed by the " Mysteries and Mo 
ralities," was by no means creditable either to the 
morals or the literature of the age, while that of ours 
can boast of a more classical origin, and the character 
of our earliest productions of a far more legitimate 
character. (221) 



222 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

In England, the first spectacle of a dramatic nature 
was the Miracle play of St. Catharine, mentioned by- 
Matthew Paris as having been written by Geoffrey, a 
Norman, afterwards Abbott of St. Albans, and per 
formed at Dunstaple Abbey, in the year 1110. 

The ancient religious dramas were distinguished by 
the names of Mysteries, precursors of the regular drama, 
which consisted of a dramatic representation of re 
ligious subjects, from the New or Old Testament, apoc 
ryphal stories, or lives of the saints, which were of the 
nature of tragedy, representing the acts of martyrdom 
of a saint of the Church. Some of these pieces con 
sisted of a single subject only, as " The Conversion of 
St. Paul/ " The Casting out of the evil Spirits from 
Mary Magdalene/ etc. 

The devil was frequently one of the persons of these 
mysteries. He was constantly attended by the vice, or 
clown, whose chief business was to play to his Satanic 
Majesty, tricks, and strike him with his wooden dagger 
till he roared, which always elicited bursts of laughter. 
Adam and Eve were represented in a state of actual 
nudity, and so late as James I., a pastoral was played 
before the queen and her women, in which some of the 
characters were almost naked. Such is the origin of 
England s early stage history ! 

The first play written in this country was by Benja 
min Coleman, in 1690, entitled Gustavus Vasa, and 
performed by the students of Harvard College. The 
first piece performed was Shakespeare s Kichard III., 
by a regular company of comedians, New York, Mon 
day, 5th of May, 1750 ; Kichard III., by Thomas Kean. 

Such being the origin of our drama, there was no 
necessity of making holy matters subjects for amuse- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 223 

ment. It was probably well for us that the Church of 
America had more respect for the Bible than those 
who madt3 religion a farce and the saints its characters. 
A drama like ours, having no monks nor priests to 
control it, would naturally produce good actors. So it 
did, and how a few of them were treated in England 
from sheer prejudice and a determination to encourage 
nothing but of indigenous growth, we purpose to show. 
To such an extent was this national feeling carried, 
that actors of English birth, whose reputations were 
made in this country, and were considered as American 
actors, by education, actually found no favor among 
their own countrymen. Among these was 

JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH. 

He was born at St. Pancras, near London, 1796 ; made 
his first appearance on the American stage, as a star, at 
Petersburg, Virginia, in 1821. It was probably more 
Booth s fault, rather than English prejudice, that ren 
dered him unpopular in London. He strongly con 
tested the palm with Kean of being the better Richard ; 
but a striking similarity, or rather as the critics call it, 
imitation of that great actor, materially lessened his 
claims. He however, found in this country more just 
and liberal criticism, and to the last divided honors with 
the best actors of both hemispheres. We pass over 
others who were coldly received in England and come 
to Edwin Forrest s second professional tour to that 
country. As the name of Charles William Macready 
will be closely connected with the events arising out of 
this visit, it is necessary to say something of that gen 
tleman here. 

Mr. Macready was born March 3rd, 1793, in London. 



224 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

In September, 1826, he came to this country with the 
reputation of being the best actor on the English stage. 
He opened at the Park Theatre, New York, October 2nd, 
as Virginius. The receipts of the house were $1GSO. 
On January 10th, 1827, he appeared in Philadelphia, 
at the Chestnut Street Theatre, as Macbeth ; returned 
to England in 1827. In 1843 he re-visited America, 
acting in all the principal cities in the United States. 
It was during this visit that the merits of the actor 
were freely discussed, and his cold, stately, mechanical 
style, compared with the gushing genius of a Kean, 
Booth and Forrest, found but few advocates ; these 
were chiefly Englishmen, who were in some manner 
connected with the press. The New York Herald had 
critics, as well as prejudiced writers, who endeavored 
by every means to extol Mr. Macready at the expense 
of Mr. Forrest. In New Orleans, a certain Henry 
Percy Leonard, an Englishman, commenced a series of 
articles against Mr. Forrest, while at the same time he 
applauded Macready. The writer of these articles was 
in that city at the time, and not having the same 
opinion of the actor, nor a very high estimate of the 
moral and social character of " Percy " himself, he ex 
posed the man and his motives. During Mr. Ma 
cready s engagement in Philadelphia it is well known 
how we defended Mr. Forrest against those who were 
the advocates of the English actor : the result of our 
labors was the removal of our name from the free list, 
by Mr. E. A. Marshall, the manager, influenced by 
Charles William Macready. 

Thus was the attempt made to muzzle the press, 
and silence, if possible, independent criticism ; and to 
this bold movement on the part of Mr. Macready, was 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 225 

ho indebted for a more correct estimate of his dramatic 
ability than that fulsome flattery had given him. It 
also tended to place Mr. Forrest s claim much higher, 
and lessened those of the great mechanical actor. 

Mr. Marshall subsequently apologized to us for act 
ing as he did in erasing our name from the list it was 
because Macready desired it: observing, "my poverty 
and not my will yielded to the great man s demand." 
Macready returned to England, disappointed, soured, 
and revengeful. In Forrest he found his superior, who 
came out of this test the conqueror, and the acknowl 
edged master of the American stage. 

Shortly after Mr. Macready s departure, Mr. Forrest 
made his arrangements to fulfil his engagement in 
London. Unconscious of the storm that awaited him 
unprepared for the malice of the disappointed he 
arrived in England, and made his appearance at the 
Princess Theatre, February 17th, 1845. As we have 
said, he was totally unprepared for the reception he 
met with. The London press had not attacked him 
in advance he knew nothing of a premeditated design 
to drive him from the stage ; the curtain rose ; the 
actor appeared ; he was greeted with hisses and groans 
from a large portion of the audience. It was evident 
that a combination was formed against him ; not alone 
because he was a superior actor, but because he was an 
American. The insult was, in an eminent degree, 
national. The fame of a great actor is the property of 
his country ; and when we, in good faith, entrusted 
that property to England, it should have been re 
spected, not abused. Never yet did the American 
people refuse to render justice to English actors; even 
those of mediocre ability were kindly received, many 
14 



226 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

of whom have made our country their home, and be 
come naturalized citizens. 

That Macready was instrumental in getting up this 
opposition, none dare deny ; the proofs are beyond a 
question of doubt. His friend, John Forster, editor of 
the Examiner, was busily engaged in writing against 
Edwin Forrest during his engagement in 1845. As an 
evidence of his mendacity, we give the following from 
the Examiner of the 22nd of February, 1845 : 

" Our old acquaintance, Mr. Forrest, the American 
tragedian, has played Othello at the Princess Theatre 
during the past week, and it would seem from the account 
(we did not see the tragedy), with entire abatement of 
that sound and fury, which distinguished his performance 
nine years ago. Nor should you do it too terribly, says 
that excellent dramatic critic, Peter Quince, for you 
would fright the Duchess and the ladies. According to 
the Times, the too terrible has subsided into the too tame. 
But we must venture to think the change a clear improve 
ment, and great gain to the audience." 

Who but Mr. Forster, the creature at that time, of 
Mr. Macready, could display such venom and vulgarity ? 
Contrast the following notice of Forrest s Lear, written 
by Douglas Jerrold, London, March 9th, 1845, with 
the low, vulgar article from the Examiner. 

EDWIN" FORREST, AS KING LEAR. 

" A more truthful, feeling and artistical display of gen 
uine acting, we never witnessed. From the first scene to 
the last, he was the Lear of our immortal bard. Not a 
line, look or gesture told of Mr. Forrest, but Lear was 
Lear from the first scene to the last. We never saw mad 
ness so perfectly portrayed. It is true to nature pain 
fully so ; and to the utter absence of mannerism, affecta 
tion, noisy declamation, and striving for effect, may, nay 
must, be attributed the histrionic triumph achieved by Mr. 
Forrest in this difficult part. By his display of Thursday 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 227 

evening, Mr. Forrest has stamped himself a man of genius. 
We candidly confess we did not think it was in him, 
and we w^ere much electrified, as was every one in the 
house. The whole audience, in fact, were taken by sur 
prise; and the unanimous cheering at the conclusion of 
each act, must have convinced Mr. Forrest how much his 
performance was appreciated. He must have been grati 
fied, for the expressions of delight which greeted him were 
as heartfelt as they were merited. The imprecation at the 
conclusion of the first act, was most impressively and ad 
mirably delivered, and drew dow r n thunders of applause 
from one and all. We never heard this awful curse so 
powerfully uttered. It was dreadful from its intenseness 
and reality. Had we space we could point out numberless 
excellencies in Mr. Forrest s performance. A more tal 
ented exhibition we never wish to see ; it is impossible to 
imagine anything more intellectual. The care and study 
bestowed upon this part must have been great, and the 
actor has identified himself most completely with it. 
It is refreshing, now-a-days, to see one of Shakespeare s 
plays so brought before us, and we feel exceedingly 
obliged to Mr. Forrest for having reminded us of the 
palmy days of Kemble and Kean ; and w r hen we add that 
his Lear is equal in every respect to that of the two mighty 
tragedians whose names are hallowed by the admirers 
of genius, we think we can scarcely bestow higher praise." 



CHAPTER XIX. 

MR. FORREST. RECEPTION IN ENGLAND. COMBINA 
TION. INTRIGUE. MACREADY S COMPLICITY WITH 

FORSTER. FORREST AND MACREADY MEET IN PARIS 

AND AT ED1NBURG. PAS DE MOUCHOIR, DISTASTE 
FUL TO FORREST. BULWER AND HIS PLAYS. 

CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN AUTHOR AND ACTOR. 

THE PRESS TAKES PART. JOHN FORSTER OF THE 
EXAMINER. 

"A/TR. MACREADY had previously been in this 
- country, and played engagements in every city, 
and made a fortune. He was extolled by a portion of 
the press, and leniently treated by those who did not 
consider him a great actor. But instead of returning 
this kindness, he acted openly towards Mr. Forrest as 
his determined foe. In Paris, Mr. Macready and Mr. 
Forrest met. The latter was anxious to appear on 
the French boards, but Mr. Macready threw obstacles 
in the way, and this was the first time that the two 
parties were enemies. Mr. Mitchell, the enterprising 
lessee of the St. James Theatre, in London, took an 
English company of actors to the French capital, with 
Mr. Macready at the head of the list. Macready was 
to be the hero the great attraction of Paris. He 
failed, however, to draw money to the treasury, and 
Mr, Mitchell lost a large sum- by the speculation. Mr. 

(228) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 229 

Forrest had letters of introduction to Mr. Mitchell from 
his friends in London ; but Macready was jealous, lest 
Forrest should prove the greater star, and he cautioned 
Mitchell not to allow Forrest to appear. The result 
was that Mr. Mitchell refused to see Mr. Forrest. 

The parties returned to London. The hypocrisy 
of Macready is apparent in his note of invitation to 
Mr. Forrest to dine with him. The latter, knowing 
the intrigue that had been carried on in Paris between 
Macready and Mitchell, declined the invitation, as 
every high-minded man should. This refusal induced 
the friends of Macready to get up a story to the effect 
that Forrest was offended because "he was not invited ! 
Is it likely that Forrest could take offence at such a 
trifle, when, at the same time, he was invited to dine 
with many of the leading nobility of England, but 
especially of Scotland, where he passed several months 
as their guest ? It will be seen that in every move 
ment of Mr. Macready, jealousy of the great American 
actor was the prominent cause. 

" Of all the passions, Jealousy 
Exacts the hardest services, and pays 
The bitterest wages. Its service is 
To watch an enemy s success ; its wages 
To be sure of it." 

The next mean act towards the American actor, 
brought through the influence of Macready, was when 
Mr. Forrest appeared at the Princess Theatre, in Lon 
don. Macready had been endeavoring for a long time 
to effect an engagement with some London manager, 
but was unsuccessful. The success of Forrest stung 
him, and he resolved to "put him down." It was said 
at the time that he or his friends actually hired men to 
visit the theatre and hiss Forrest off the stage, and he 



230 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

was consequently received with a shower of hisses be 
fore he was heard ! This mean conduct was followed 
up by the press, by which Mr. Forrest was most out 
rageously assailed, and not him alone, but his country, 
which was proud to own him as one of her sons. 

Having the evidence of the origin of these as 
saults, is it to be wondered at that Mr. Forrest felt in 
dignant against a man whom his countrymen had hon 
ored and treated with courtesy ? [The evidence of Mr. 
Macready s complicity with John Forster and others, 
to hiss Mr. Forrest will be given when we come to the 
Astor Place Opera House riot.] 

We now come to the first outbreak of Mr. Forrest, 
and it is one we regretted at the time and to which we 
objected. Forrest and Macready met in Edinburg. 
Macready was playing Hamlet at the Theatre Koyal. 
Forrest was present. During the beginning of the 
piece, Mr. Forrest applauded several times, and, as we 
are informed by an eye-witness, he started the applause 
when some brilliant effect had been given to a passage, 
so that the whole house followed. But now comes 
Forrest s great error, which Mr. Macready never forgave 
the error of hissing that gentleman for introducing 
the pas de mouchoir at the close of the play scene, and 
performing sundry other similar antics. This act of 
Mr. Forrest drew the attention of the Dublin audience 
to this scene, when Mr. Macready repeated the play a 
few nights subsequently. The editor of the Edinburg 
Weekly Chronicle, March 14th, 1846, says: "On Mon 
day he personated Hamlet, when he again introduced 
tliQ pas de mouchoir. A few injudicious admirers at 
tempted to applaud the harlequinade, which elicited 
hisses from so many of the audience that we fear our 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 231 

contemporary, the /Scotsman, will be unable to en 
joy the satisfaction of individually stigmatizing the 
offenders/ Mr. Forrest should have remembered that 
Hamlet, being mad, was just as likely to dance a horn 
pipe as anything else. This was not original with Mr. 
Macready, as we saw it done on the boards of old 
Drury (Chestnut Street Theatre) long before Mr. Ma- 
cready s name or fame had reached this country. 

Out of this incident Macready contrived to create 
a great deal of sympathy for himself. He was at 
the time part proprietor of the London Examiner. 
Forster, who did all things to please Macready, gave a 
false coloring to the whole affair, denouncing Forrest 
in the Examiner and other papers. 

Had Mr. Macready received Mr. Forrest in London 
as one gentleman and actor should have received an 
other, and extended to him that courtesy Mr. Forrest 
had shown him here, how much rancor, ill feeling, and 
even bloodshed might have been avoided. Bat ingrat 
itude not unfrequently finds its reward, but alas ! too 
late at times to remedy the evil it produces in society. 
The innocent often suffer for the guilty acts of others. 

" Not faster yonder rowers might 

Fling from their oars the spray ; 

Not faster yonder rippling bright 

That tracks the shallop s course in light, 
Melts in the lake away, 

Than men from memory erase 

The benefits of former days." 

But Mr. Macready s persecution did not stop here. 
Forrest desired to appear in London in Bulwer s plays 
of Lady of Lyons, and Richelieu. To obtain this he 
had to apply to the author. He reasoned upon this 
principle, that if the Garrick Club deemed him worthy 
of the compliment of a dinner in 1836, and Macready 



232 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

and Kemble honored the festival with their presence, lie 
might ask with a good grace the privilege of playing 
the production of one of their honored members. The 
following correspondence will enable the reader to an 
swer the question, why Mr. Bulwer refused to allow 
Mr. Forrest to appear in plays in which Mr. Macready 
had acquired a high reputation : 

" 26 REGENT STREET, LONDON. 

"SlR: Being desirous of producing at the Princess 
Theatre the plays of Richelieu and the Lady of Lyons, 
I take the liberty of addressing you to know if you have 
any objection to them being represented there, and what 
would be the author s nightly fee. 

" I have the honor to be, yours, with the highest 
respect, " EDWIN FORREST. 

" To SIR E. L. BULWER, Bart." 

" MARCH 4th, 1845. 

" SIR : I regret that, having invariably declined to 
allow the representation of my plays, nightly, at any metro 
politan theatre, I cannot comply with your request. I 
could not allow Richelieu and the Lady of Lyons to be per 
formed for a less period than ten nights each, upon a pay 
ment beforehand of fifty guineas for the tioo, and suppo 
sing that the twenty performances were included within 
five weeks at which time the right of performance (sup 
posing that accident prevented the completing the twenty 
representations) would cease and return entirely at my 
disposal. 

"I am, sir, your obedient servant, 

" E. L. BULWER. 

" E. FORREST, Esq." 

Mr. Bulwer did not even condescend to reply to Mr. 
Forrest s note until nearly ten days had expired. The 
reader will perceive from this correspondence that Mr. 
Bulwer knew it would be impossible for Mr. Forrest to 
comply with his conditions. What influence was 
brought to bear upon the author during these ten 
days ? 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 233 

It was ascertained that Macready and Bulwer had 
been much together, and that the former had prevailed 
on the latter not to allow Forrest the use of his com 
positions. [The correspondence between Mr. Forrest 
and Mr. Macready upon this subject will be given in 
their proper place, as it was not published until 
1848-9.] 

Shortly after Mr. Forrest s death, an article appeared 
in the New York Clipper, headed " Edwin Forrest in 
London. Personal Keminiscences of him. By Le 
Voila." The article contains very little of interest 
beyond table gossip, having more of romance about it 
than reality. One passage, however, we give here, as it 
contains an allusion to the subject upon which we are 
engaged in this number : 

" The visit made to London in 1845 exerted a wonder 
ful influence upon the subsequent career of Mr. Forrest 
an influence much more enduring and profound than his 
most intimate friends in this country could truly imagine. 
In the spring of 1846 the writer passed some weeks in a 
pleasure-visit to the British metropolis, and, while in com 
pany with Mr. Charles H. Peabody, the originator of the 
once famous Knickerbocker Magazine, and of the very 
popular Parlor Journal, I renewed an acquaintance with 
Mr. Forrest which, in America, had been almost formal. 
At that moment our tragedian was engaged in a contro 
versy, through the colums of the Times, with Mr. Macready, 
and although his communications were suffered courteously, 
to appear in that daily, the general tone and temper of the 
press were decidedly hostile to him as an actor. It is due 
to Mr. Forrest to say that he had never decried the artistic 
ability of his presumptive rival, who, however, belonged to 
that traditional school of imitators of the Kemble family, 
so popular in London, and comparatively unknown to us, 
preferring, as we did, that style of acting proceeding from 
Garrick, through John Frederick Cooke, Edmund Kean, 
and the elder Booth. Neither did Forrest hiss Macready 
for his performance of Hamlet, but merely gave expression 



234 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

to his displeasure at his rendition of an isolated point in 
the tragedy. In the scene wherein the prince invites the 
court to the play, Mr. Macready preceded the royal cor 
tege, waving a pocket-handkerchief, while executing a sort 
of waltz around the stage. This decidedly ludicrous exhi 
bition of madness in philosophic gentlemen of mature years, 
which Mr. Forrest humorously designated as a pas de mou- 
choir, undoubtedly excited his imagination, and he, un 
guardedly, gave vent to his disapprobation in a half-stifled 
hiss. Probably it would have been wiser in the American 
to have allowed the free-born Britain to have capered in 
perfect silence, for the over zealous friends of Macready 
misconstrued both the intent and the extent of his indiscre 
tion, and a howl went forth throughout the length and 
breadth of the land that Forrest had had the presumption 
to hiss Macready. 

" Our tragedian had been well received by crowded 
audiences at the Princess , but having been criticised, as 
he considered, unjustly, and by parties in the interest of 
Macready notably Mr. Forster, of the Examiner he had 
resolved neither to renew the engagement or to accept 
any others made before his unpleasantness with the English 
actor occurred. He was, when the writer met him, merely 
stopping in London with his wife, on a visit to her family, 
preparatory to a tour on the European continent. I had 
recently made a prolonged visit to Wales, and on my way 
towards London had indulged in a sort of pilgrimage on 
the footsteps of Owen Glendower, visiting many of the 
localities mentioned in Shakespeare s Henry IV. A de 
scription of these places interested Mr. Forrest deeply, as 
I found him to be well versed in the earlier dramatic 
literature, and most anxious to obtain all manner of books 
relating to the Elizabethan stage. After this casual meet 
ing, Mr. Forrest exhibited towards me the greatest friend 
ship, as the companionship of a brother American, with 
ample leisure on his hands, was an agreeable break in the 
monotony of a residence amid a community for which he 
entertained little respect, and which he was commencing 
almost to hate." 

The attacks made upon Mr. Forrest by the English 
press were followed up here, in which the New York 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 235 

Herald took the lead. The following article first ap 
peared in this country in the Herald, while Mr. Forrest 
was playing in Liverpool, after a stormy engagement 
in London. It may be well to state, however, that he 
triumphed even there over his enemies, received high 
testimonials from the gentlemen of the press and the 
literary talent of the metropolis. We give the article 
as it appeared in the New York Herald and republish- 
ed in Scott s Weekly Paper, of Philadelphia, with edi 
torial remarks. The writer of this was interested in 
Scott s Weekly Paper, and used its columns in defend 
ing Mr. Forrest from his enemies : 

ME. FORREST IN EUROPE. ATTACKS OF THE ENGLISH PRESS. 
A CORRUPTING INFLUENCE. PALTRY COMPARISONS. 

" The Liverpool Mercury states that Mr. Edwin For 
rest has taken his departure suddenly in the good ship 
Rochester. Mr. Forrest was advertised to take his farewell 
benefit at Liverpool, but did not do so. It is certain that 
he felt much disappointed at his reception on this, his last 
visit ; but in reality he has no one but himself to blame. 
He engaged at a theatre not fitted for the representation 
he played parts in which the public had seen him in 
other and better pieces parts too in which that public had 
awarded the palm of superiority to Macready and Charles 
Keau. The only novelty he attempted was Metamora, 
and no talent could uphold such a drama as that. Had Mr. 
Forrest offered anything at once new and endurable, the 
public would not have deserted him. Many characters 
were suggested for him Zanga, Bajazet, Octavian, Gam 
bia, amid the rest but he stuck to Macbeth, Lear, and 
one or two other parts, in which it was evident the public 
mind had been made up not to acknowledge him. The 
general opinion appeared to be, that on his physical abili 
ties (not on his mental ones) he must rely. John Bull 
was prepared to receive him with open arms as a melo 
drama actor, not as a tragedian. We are informed that he 
will make a tour of the States, and then quit the stage for- 



236 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ever. He is the first American actor, and his absence will 
create a void not speedily to be filled up. 

" The above article first appeared in this country in the 
New York Herald, and has since travelled the rounds of 
the American press, without note or comment. Our object 
in copying it, is to express astonishment at some of the 
assertions therein, and to say that it is w r ith no little degree 
of surprise that we have noticed articles of a similar tenor 
copied into our papers, as if every word they contained 
were solemn truths. 

" It was undoubtedly copied into our papers like that 
of many others, and taken as all such criticisms are, with a 
certain degree of allowance, nor were the comments of the 
press unfavorable to the American tragedian. It was well 
known here that a determined opposition was made against 
Mr. Forrest, and we were prepared for it. 

" The Liverpool Mercury says Mr. Forrest appeared in 
parts in which that public had awarded the palm of 
superiority to Macready and Charles Kean. Good gra 
cious, Max Will some one take this man away. This 
Liverpool Mercury man, we mean. Macready and Charles 
Kean ! Really, if anything had been wanting to prove the 
pre-paid, well bought English press, we have it here. 
Charles Kean awarded the palm of superiority over Edwin 
Forrest ! It is too ludicrous, yet it is but a repetition of 
the vile slang that has been hurled at Mr. Forrest since his 
appearance at the Princess , in London, some eighteen 
months ago. 

"And what was the cause of all that violent oppo 
sition ? 

" Mr. Macready had been in this country, and although 
our toadying press bespattered him, and his acting, with 
fulsome praise, his trip was a failure a lamentable failure 
not from opposition by any one press in the country, but 
from the lack of merit. The automaton style of Mr. Mac- 
ready pleased not ; the genius the fire the originality 
the pathos the natural development of the passions the 
soul-stirring, invigorating style of Forrest the Kean style 
was wanting, and mechanism was not relished Mr. 
Macready s mannerism failed, while Mr. Forrest s genius 
triumphed. 

" Mr. Forrest visited Europe. 

" It is well known that he had scarcely made his appear- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 237 

ance ere disapprobation was manifested and we have Mr. 
N. P. Willis for authority, and he in this has not been de 
nied or doubted by persons who acknowledge that it was 
from no ill-will to Mr. Forrest, but they were paid to kiss 
him. Who paid them ? 

" The press was violent in its opposition. Why ? 

" Mr. Forrest refused to buy their praise, and stood, as 
he had done for twenty-five years previously, upon his 
individual merit as an actor. With the people he was suc 
cessful ; and the great force of his acting, and the rapturous 
applause that attended it, in King Lear, compelled the Lon 
don press the Times among them to acknowledge they 
had never seen it equalled ! And yet it is gravely stated 
in the above, that the palm of superiority had been award 
ed to Macready and Charles Kean in that very character. 

" Talent is confined to no clime it knows no locality, 
and the people of this country have been prolific in their 
homage to merit from abroad seldom bestowing much 
upon that of home origin. Hence, the abuse of the first 
American actor by the British press. We have not the 
courage to sustain talent of our own while we lavish adula 
tions upon doubtful merit of other climes. 

" The characters of Zanga, Bajazet, Octavian, Gambia, 
etc., had been suggested for "him, says the Liverpool Mer 
cury, i but he would stick to Macbeth, Lear and one or 
two other parts. Suggested for him, indeed. Probably, 
the Mercury man was grieved that Mr. Forrest stuck to 
those characters particularly if he is so friendly to the 
other gentlemen for Mr. Forrest is the only living repre 
sentative of the two characters named, with others of the 
Shakesperian caste. This is placed beyond all doubt by 
the honest dramatic critics of all countries." 

Many have confounded John Forster, of the Ex 
aminer, with John Foster, the celebrated Essayist 
and eloquent Baptist clergyman. He was a man of 
the purest heart, and of the most exalted intellect. 
He cultivated letters, for that enlarged the sphere of 
his usefulness, and taught him (to use his own words) 
"to live along the progression of sublime attain 
ment." 



238 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

John Forster, whom Mr. Macready " has the honor 
to call friend/ was cast in a different mould. 



CHAPTER XX. 

FORREST HISSES MACREADY. THE RIGHT OF DOING SO 

QUESTIONED. COMBINATIONS IMPROPER. ARE AC 
TORS COMPETENT CRITICS? HAMLET/S INSANE AC 
TIONS. FORREST VS. SNOBBISM IN GOTHAM. THE 

RIGHTS OF HISSING AT THEATRES CONSIDERED. 

~TN the last chapter we spoke of Mr. Forrest s hiss- 
-*- ing Macready on the 2nd of March, 1846, while 
that gentleman was playing Hamlet at the Theatre 
Royal, Edinburg whether from personal considerations 
or upon critical grounds, are questions a difference of 
opinion has never yet reconciled. At the time this in 
cident occurred, we wrote the following article, which is 
the only one to which we believe Mr. Forrest ever made 
an exception ; but that mattered little to us. We wrote 
as we thought then, and see no reason now to suppress 
the article in connection with these " Reminiscences." 
The following is an extract from the article : 

" As we purpose to allude to some of the facts in relation 
to what are termed the Macready Riots, as a preliminary 
to which we shall briefly state that on Forrest s visit to 
England in 1845, a regular organized band of ruffians were 
hired by some person or persons to hiss him off, while at 
the same time the press, under, it is said, the conduct of a 
few popular actors, made a decided attack upon him, in 
which criticism, courtesy and all the rights of hospitality 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 239 

were most outrageously abused. An editor of one of 
these presses was a personal friend of Mr. Macready, of 
which he boasted in this country. 

******* 

" Mr. Forrest hissed Mr. Macready for introducing a 
fancy dance in Hamlet we should have hissed him for 
attempting to muzzle the press, but, as we are opposed to 
that system of criticism, we adopted the more legitimate 
mode the pen. 

" We now come to that portion of Mr. Forrest s life 
which we are reluctantly compelled to censure and that 
is, the hissing of Mr. Macready at the time and place men 
tioned. The play was Hamlet. Whatever cause, be 
yond the real one given, Mr. Forrest imagined or conceived 
he had, to insult a brother actor thus publicly, it displayed 
a passionate temper and that lack of courtesy due to those 
who are endeavoring to amuse and instruct their fellow- 
men. In the first place, an actor has no right to hiss; his 
position before the public is as its servant. As well might 
a member of Congress hiss a brother member because he 
does not pronounce a word right, or agree with the critic 
in opinions under discussion. Nor has any one individual 
a right to hiss an actor; if there be anything he does not 
like, he can retire ; is the house to be disturbed because 
one man is not pleased? are five hundred persons to be de 
barred the pleasure they derive, because one is dissatisfied ? 
No ! nor is there anything to justify hissing, but palpable 
neglect, indecency and vulgarity ; and even then, one man 
has no right to disturb five hundred, whose views and 
ideas of what constitutes morality, diifer from his. When 
Mr. Forrest hissed Mr. Macready, he was, it is true, an 
auditor, and a brother actor. Mr. Macready s notion of 
Hamlet differed from Mr. Forrest s, and he hissed. What 
would Mr. Forrest have thought of Mr. Booth, if that 
gentleman hissed his Richard III. ? 

******* 

" Combinations have been formed by a few individuals to 
hiss an actor off the stage for personal reasons, and in al 
most every instance they have succeeded, simply because 
the audience did not exercise its right to put them out. 
Every star has some peculiar business on the stage, or new 
reading, at least, differing from others. Mr. Forrest has 



240 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

many, and what would he think of those who, to use his 
own words, have the right to hiss, compel and force an 
actor to act, do, perform and read in accordance with their 
dictation ? No ! it is all wrong; the pen is the only 
weapon to be used in criticism ; nor should the theatre be 
come the arena for the display and exercise of that most 
delicate art. 

" Dr. Johnson, in paper No. 25 of The Idler, speaking 
upon this subject, uses the following strong and forcible 
language : I have always considered those combinations 
which are formed in the play-house, as acts of fraud or 
cruelty. He that applauds him who does not deserve 
praise, is endeavoring to deceive the public. He that hisses 
in malice or in sport is an oppressor and a robber. 

" Mr. Forrest, in his published letter defending his 
right to hiss, falls into several errors, which we most 
sincerely regret. In the first place, he says : Mr. Mac- 
ready thought fit to introduce a fancy dance into his per 
formance of Hamlet. In the second place, he contends 
that a man can manifest his pleasure or displeasure after 
the recognized mode. Thirdly, an actor, in his capacity as 
a spectator, has a right to hiss, because, from the nature 
of his studies, he is much more competent to judge of a 
theatrical performance than any soi-disant critic, who has 
never himself been an actor ! 

" Having already shown the fallacy of such reasons, we 
now ask, what is the recognized mode alluded to ? Who 
are to constitute themselves critics under the new system ? 
No one individual, we contend, has the right to disturb the 
house ; it must be two-thirds or none. The minority can 
not put down the majority. Hence there are no recog 
nized modes but those of the pen and the press. For one 
man to hiss an actor is a direct insult, not only to him but 
to the audience. 

" The next point is, are actors, from the nature of their 
studies, competent to be critics ? We contend they are 
not. They are actors, and invariably have notions peculiar 
ly their own ; and from the very nature of their studies, 
are incapable of judging or correcting the errors of their 
brother artists. It is true, an actor will criticise ; but are 
his criticisms just ? Are not actors, like poets, hemmed in 
by an atmosphere of their own each thinking that he ex 
cels, and forming ideas and opinions directly opposite to 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 241 

those of the author himself, as is frequently the case? The 
critic s art is above that of the actor. The one identifies 
himself with the image prepared for him, and he presents 
himself before us, for our approval or censure. The ques 
tion is, whether the actor or the audience should be the 
judge. If the actor, then the critic s art ceases at once. 
When a writer in London criticised Kemble s dress in 
Othello, that actor admitted its truth, and gave as a rea 
son, that if he were to dress the character as the authority 
called for, it would be too weighty for him ; and hence the 
error even to this day. Who was right here the actor or 
the critic ? This critic did not correct Kemble while on 
the stage ; on the contrary, he adopted the only legitimate 
mode, and that was, and is, the pen. Shakespeare, an actor 
and author, never presumed to criticise. He created sub 
jects for the critic s pen. l Addison wrote and Addison 
criticised, is a well-known phrase. So did Dr. Johnson. 
But neither of these great men were actors. In fact, to 
the credit of the stage be it said, no one has ever pre 
sumed to set himself up as a censor over his brother actors. 

" We seldom hear one actor speak well of another; the 
same with authors and painters. They are all superlative 
in their own estimation, and yet we are told, from the na 
ture of their studies, they are the best critics. The fact is, 
an actor may deem himself honored when the critic notices 
him. Criticism was, in the golden days of the drama, 
considered the highest order of writing; and when Addi 
son wrote and Johnson criticised, the actor would have cut 
a bad figure in entering the list against such odds. Criti 
cism and the rules which govern it are, we contend, in 
compatible with the actor s position as well as his studies. 

" True criticism, says Blair, is the application of taste 
and good sense to the several fine arts. The object which 
it proposes is, to distinguish what is beautiful and what is 
faulty in every performance ; from particular instances to 
ascend in general principles ; and so to form rules or con 
clusions concerning the several kinds of beauty in works 
of genius. Criticism is, therefore, above all the arts. " 

We think an actor is excusable in introducing by 
action any ridiculous folly in the scene of what Forrest 
called a fancy dance. Hamlet being mad, the audience, 
15 



242 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

when the fit is on him, is prepared for almost any sort 
of outbreak. Our readers, however, must not take our 
view of this particular phase in Hamlet s insanity from 
the acting copy. The following, from the folio of 1623, 
will show Hamlet s mental condition in a very differ 
ent light from the text of the modern acting copy : 

King. " Give me some light. Away ! 

AH. Lights lights lights ! 

[Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio. } 

Ham. Why let the stricken deer go weep, 
The hart ungalled play ; 

For some must watch, while some must sleep ; 
Thus runs the world away. 

Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers (if the rest of my for 
tunes turn Turk with me), with two provincial roses on my razed 
shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir ? 

Hor. Half a share. 

Ham. A whole one, I, 
For thou dost know, Damon, dear ! 
This realm dismantled was 
Of Jove himself ; and now reigns here 
A very very paiock ! " 

The word peacock was introduced by Pope ; nor are 
we enabled to discover by the oldest authorities why in 
the old quartos, as well as in the folio of 1623, it is 
written paiocke, and in one of the quartos paioc, which 
the folio of 1632 changes to pajock. If Shakespeare in 
tended to apply the word to Hamlet, or to the King of 
Denmark, as being a very very "peacock," it is 
equally difficult to determine ; but there it is, and we 
take it as an evidence of Hamlet s insanity. Shake 
speare may have borrowed the idea from Pliny, who in 
speaking of this " proud and conceited fowl/ says : 

" The peacock farre surpasseth all the rest of this kind, 
as well as for beautie, as also for wit and" understanding 
that he hath ; but principally for the pride and glorie that 
hee taketh in himselfe. For perceiving at any time that he 
is praised, and well liked, he spreadeth his tail around, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 243 

shewing and setting out his colors to the most, which shine 
againe like precious stones." 

Hamlet in this scene acts in such a manner as to 
induce him to ask Horatio if he would not make a 
good actor, to which his friend readily assents ; hence 
the words, " forest of feathers," etc. Horatio, to humor 
Hamlet in his " peacock" conceit, as he struts about the 
stage, uttering unmeaning words, says: "You would 
"be entitled to half a share/ which was the pay of a 
second-rate actor. Hamlet claims a higher rank, and 
exclaims: "A whole one." 

In connection with these disjointed words, a fancy 
dance we do not think would be out of place. At 
least we do not consider it sufficient cause for public 
censure, coming as it did in a Jiiss. The action might 
elicit criticism, which even then would be simply a dif- 
ence of opinion. 

On one occasion when Mr. Macready enacted Ham 
let here, he assumed in this scene the manners of a silly 
youth, tossed his head right and left, and skipped back 
and forth across the stage five or six times. 

Actors, in Shakespeare s time, had no salaries as 
now. The receipts were divided into shares, of which 
the proprietors of the theatres, or " house-keepers," as 
they were called, had some ; and each actor had one or 
more shares, or parts of a share, according to his rank 
or interest. In 1608, the Blackfriars Theatre was 
held by eleven members of the company, on twenty 
shares, of which Shakespeare owned four, while some 
others had but a half share each. j 

It was certainly a great oversight in Shakespeare to 
introduce,* in the tragedy of Hamlet, incidents and 
illusions occurring some four hundred years after the 



244 LIFE OP EDWIN FOREEST. 

supposed transactions upon which the play was 
founded. The history of Hamlet, or Hamleth, is found 
in the Danish historian, Saxo-Gramaticus, who died 
about 1204. The works of this historian are in Latin, 
and in Shakespeare s time had not been translated into 
any modern language. Shakespeare, therefore, must 
have read the original. That Shakespeare adopted the 
same period of action as related by Saxo-Gramaticus, 
there can be no doubt ; hence the passages alluded to as 
occurring in the seventeenth century, can only be set 
down as anachronisms, or merely thrown in as local hits, 
at actors and others of the period. Hamlet s advice to 
the players maybe also quoted: "To split the ears of 
the groundlings," etc., could not apply to the stage in 
Denmark in the twelfth or thirteenth centuries. 

THE RIGHT OF HISSING AT THEATRES. 

The right of individuals to hiss in public places, 
seems to be but imperfectly understood. It has long 
since been decided, both here and in Europe, that a 
man has the right to hiss, and denounce publicly any 
thing that is offensive to morals and the expression of 
sentiments tolerating murder, arson, and treason. As 
regards the right of hissing in a theatre, the very char 
acter of such exhibitions requires some potent power 
to keep both manager and actor within the bounds of 
decency. 

Lord Mansfield, in the case of Mr. Macklin, stated 
that a British audience had a right to express their 
applause or disapprobation of plays and actors in the 
usual manner ; but if it could be proved that any per 
son or persons went night after night to the theatre 
for the purpose of preventing an actor exercising his 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 245 

profession, or to injure the manager or proprietors, such 
person or persons would not only be subject to an ac 
tion at law, but might be indicted for the offence. In 
deed, we can go back to the year 1629, when a com 
pany of French players, chiefly females, who had been 
expelled from their own country for indecent exhibi 
tions, appeared at Blackfriars, London ; they were 
hissed, hooted, and pippin-pelted from the stage. If 
wo had been as moral in the year 1819, when the 
French ballet company appeared here and shocked 
modesty with their short skirts and low-neck dresses, 
our stage would have been far more respectable than 
it ever has been since. 

In Prynni s Histriomastix, 1634, is inserted a mar 
ginal note in these words : " Some .Frenchwomen, or 
monsters rather, in Michaelmas term, 1629, attempted 
to act a French play at the Blackfriars play-house, 
an impudent, shameful, un womanish, graceless, if not 
more than wantonish, attempt." Another account 
says : " Furthermore you should know that last daye, 
certaine vagrant French players, who had beene ex 
pelled from their owne countrey, and those women did 
attempt thereby, giving just offence to all virtuous 
and well-disposed persons in this town, to act a certain 
lascivious and unchaste comedye in the French tongue, 
at the Blackfrairs. Glad I am to saye they were hissed, 
hooted, and pippin-pelted from the stage, etc." 

In the old English theatres, as well as in those of 
our own, the audience expressed its disapprobation or 
approbation in much the same manner as they do now, 
by clapping of hands, exclamations, hisses, groans, and 
by various imitations, such as that of cats, dogs, cocks, 
etc. Marston, in the introduction to his " What You 



246 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Like/ 1607, says: "Monsieur Snuff,* Monsieur Mew, 
and Cavaliere Blirt, are three of the most to be-feared 
auditors ; " and farther on he asks if the poet s resolve 
shall be "struck through with the blirt of a goose 
breath?" So that the technical phrase of "treating 
an actor with goose" was understood at a very early 
period of our stage history. Indeed, the audience in 
the year 1654 had the complete control of the theatres. 
Edmund Gayton, in his "Festivous Notes on Don 
Quixote," says: "I have known upon one of these 
festivals, but especially at Shrovetide, when the players 
have been appointed, notwithstanding their bills to the 
contrary, to act what the major part of the company 
had a mind to ; sometimes < Tamerlane/ sometimes 
1 Jugurth/ sometimes the Jew of Malta/ and some 
times parts of all these ; and at last, none of the three 
taking, they were forced to undress and put off their 
tragic habits, and conclude the day with the < Merry 
Milkmaids/" 

A very commendable instance of the audience cen 
suring improprieties of an author, and the author ac 
quiescing and altering them, is to be seen in a note to 
the prologue to " Sir John Cockle at Court/ by Dod- 
sley. In the prologue are these two lines : 

" Small faults we hope with candor you ll excuse, 
Nor harshly treat a self-convicted muse." 

These two lines were added after the first night s per- 

* The use of tobacco and snuff was oftentimes very offensive to 
the actor, the consumption of which on the stage is mentioned by in 
numerable authorities ; but it should seem from a line in the epi- 
gams of Sir John Davies and Christopher Madon, printed 1598, that 
at that period it was a service of some danger, and generally ob 
jected ; 

" He dares to take tobacco on the stage." 

In 1638, women smoked tobacco in the theatre as well as men. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 247 

formance, and tlie author thanked " the town " for so 
judiciously correcting the abuses. Collier, p. 271, 
says : " The duties incumbent upon the frequenters of 
theatres are, undoubtedly, great, since they are, in 
part, the patrons and support of the theatre, and are 
in a great measure those who give the law to its pro 
fessors, by the applause and censure and attendance 
which they give to particular exhibitions and perform 
ers. If the amusement be vicious, the company are all 
accessory to the mischief of the place ; for ; were there 
no audience, we should have no action." 

An audience constitutes itself the judge in deciding 
upon the question of the right to "hiss in a theatre," 
from the fact that we have no censorship over plays, or 
laws prohibiting indecent exhibitions, or if we have 
they are not enforced. An actor who comes on the 
stage in a state of intoxication insults the audience; 
the manager in permitting it, alike insults it. There 
is but one way to resent this insult, and that is to hiss 
him off the stage. Or, if an actor so far forgets him 
self as to use vulgar or indecent language, he subjects 
himself to this mode of expressing the disapprobation 
of the persons present. Again, if a manager should 
engage a police officer to remove the individual who so 
expresses his objections to indecency, he sustains the 
actor in his vulgarity, or the drunkard in his beas- 
tiality. 



CHAPTEK XXI. 

RICHARD III. COLLET GIBBER S VERSION. FIRST RICH 
ARD IN AMERICA. ACTORS CELEBRATED IN THE 

PART. FORREST S RICHARD, NOT SHAKESPEARE S. 

HE ADHERES TO HISTORY. QUESTION OF DRESS. 

IN our last chapter we left Mr. Forrest in England. 
As we shall not bring him on the stage again until 
the year 1849, we will fill up the interval with personal 
and dramatic matters which we think will be equally 
interesting to our readers. In this part we will 
speak of 

MR. FORREST S RICHARD m., 

which met with but little favor from the press. Some 
account of this great and popular tragedy in connection 
with Mr. Forrest s rendition of the character, may not 
be considered out of place in these Reminiscences. 

In the commencement of this drama, which, in the 
original title, is stated to be " The Life and Death of 
Eichard III.," the historical action is somewhat con 
fused, since it opens with George, Duke of Clarence, 
being committed to the tower, in the beginning of 
1478 ; whilst the second scene brings in the funeral of 
Henry VI., who is commonly reported to have been 
murdered, May 23rd, 1471. It closes with the death of 
Eichard, in the battle of Bosworth Field, August 22nd, 
1485 j and thus it may be said to comprise the space of 

(248) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 249 

fourteen years. The scene is laid in London and va 
rious parts of England. 

There seems to have been several dramas and other 
pieces written upon this point of history before Shake 
speare produced his tragedy, but he does not appear to 
have used any of them. Mr. Boswell supposed, how 
ever, that an "Interlude of Richard III., with the death 
of Edward IV., the smothering of the two princes, the 
end of Shore s wife, and the contention of the Houses 
of Lancaster and York," published in 1594, had so 
great a resemblance to this play, that the author must 
have seen it before he composed his own. It is, not 
withstanding, one of the worst of the ancient Inter 
ludes, and has but few traces of likeness. 

Richard III. was probably written in 1593 or 1594 ; 
it appears entered at Stationers Hall, October 20th, 
1597. In 1700, Colley Gibber s alteration of this trag 
edy was produced at Drury Lane, from which the 
licenser obliterated the whole of the first act, observing 
that the distresses and murder of Henry VI. would too 
much remind weak persons of James II., then in exile 
at St. Germains. It was thus performed for several 
years, and was always very popular and successful, 
which Stevens attributes partly to Gibber s revision. 
The modern adaptation of Richard was made by John 
P. Kemble from both Shakespeare and Gibber, and was 
published by him as acted at Covent Garden in 1810. 
This version is remarkably feeble ; and when Garrick 
produced Colley Gibber s version at Goodman s Fields, 
his utterance of the line " Off Avith his head ; so much 
for Buckingham," drew down thunders of applause, and 
these words first set the seal on Garrick s popularity, 
and of course sustained Gibber s version. The intro- 



250 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

duction of cannon and fire-arms startled old stagers, 
and unwise critics shouted out "anachronism!" Not 
so. The battle of Bosworth Field was fought on the 
22nd of August, 1485. Great guns were invented in 
1330 : used by the Moors at the siege of Algeciras, in 
Spain, in 1344; used at the battle of Cressy, in 1346, 
when Edward had four pieces of cannon, which gained 
him the battle. They were used at the siege of Calais, 
in 1347 ; in Denmark, 1354 ; at sea, by Venice against 
Genoa, 1377. First used in England, at the siege of 
Berwick, 1405 ; first used in Spain, 1406. 

Colley Gibber s version has been criticised and con 
demned ever since its introduction on the stage. It was 
considered by Shakesperian scholars as a desecration, 
and yet it has maintained a place upon the stage ever 
since. Shakespeare s Kichard, as written, would not 
be acknowledged now by play-goers. Garrick, Mossop, 
Kemble, Cooke, Cooper, Kean, and Forrest have played 
Garrick s version, and this fact gives its authority. A 
writer says: "Great as these names are, that of Shake 
speare is surely well worth a myriad of them." And 
yet, with all these criticisms and reflections on the 
Richard of Gibber, actors all agree that if he had only 
added to the original the two lines which at all times 
elicit applause, he would have merited a higher compli 
ment than he has for a general revision of it. The 
lines are these : 

" Off with his head ; so much for Buckingham ; " 

and 

" Richard is himself again." 

That our readers may appreciate Gibber s altera 
tions and additions, we add the following : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 251 

" The aspiring youth that fired the Ephesian dome, 
Outlives in fame the pious fool that raised it." 

ACT III. SCENE 1. 

" Hark, from the tents, 

The armorers accomplishing 1 the knights, 
With clink of hammers closing rivets up, 
Give dreadful note of preparation. 

" I ve lately had two spiders 
Crawling upon my startled hopes 
Now, tho thy friendly hand has brushed em from me, 
Yet still they crawl offensive to my eyes; 
I would have some kind friend to tread upon em." 

ACT IV. SCENE 3.* 

THOMAS KEAN THE FIRST RICHARD III. IN AMERICA. 

This gentleman was a man of talent. Little, how 
ever, is known of his history. He arrived in Philadel 
phia from the West Indies, in 1747-8, and played with 
the "American Amateur Company" in 1748-9, in a 
temporary building in what was known as "Little Dock 
Street." In connection with a Mr. Murray, he made 
arrangements to open a theatre in New York. There 
was no theatre at that time in that city. Their arrival 
was thus announced in the " Gazette " of February, 
20th, 1749 : 

" Last week arrived here a company of comedians from 
Philadelphia, who, we hear, have taken a convenient room 
for their purpose in one of the buildings lately belonging 
to the Hon. Kip Van Dam, deceased, in Nassau Street, 
where they intend to perform as long as the season lasts, 
provided they meet with suitable encouragement." 

The announcement of the managers was as follows : 

* William Hazlett, however, seems to have had a very different 
opinion of Colley Gibber s version, for, speaking of it, he says : " The 
manner in which Shakespeare s plays have been generally altered, or 
rather mangled by modern mechanists, is a disgrace to the English 
stage. The patchwork Richard III. which is acted under the sanc 
tion of his name, and which was manufactured by Gibber, is a strik 
ing example of this remark." 



252 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

By his Excellency s permission, at the theatre, in Nassau Street. 

On MONDAY, the 5th day of March (1750), 
will be presented the Historical Play of 

KING EICHARD HI., 

wrote originally by Shakespeare, and altered by Colley Gibber, Esq. 
Pit, 5 shillings. Gallery, 3 shillings. 

This was the first representation of Kichard III. on 
record in the Colonies. Thomas Kean was the Rich 
ard. As this was the first acknowledged theatrical 
company in the country, we give the names of its mem 
bers as far as they could be found in the play-bills of 
the day: Kean, Tremaine, Murray, Woodham, lago, 
Scott, Leigh, Smith, Moore, Marks, Master Murray, 
Miss Osborne, Miss Nancy George, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. 
Osborne, Mrs. Leigh, and Mrs. Davis. 

The most celebrated Richard s in this country since 
Hallam s advent, were Cooper, Booth, Fennell, Cooke, 
Kean and Edwin Forrest. All these great actors, ex 
cept Mr. Forrest, adhered to traditionary authority for 
portraying the character; the latter gave us a version 
of his own. He represented the crook-backed tyrant 
somewhat different from the general idea we have of 
his personal appearance, but he gave us Richard as he 
contended was the proper view of the character, as tow 
ering and lofty, equally impetuous and commanding ; 
haughty, violent and subtle ; bold and treacherous ; 
confident in his strength as well as in his cunning ; 
raised by high birth and higher by his genius and his 
crimes ; a royal usurper, a princely hypocrite a tyrant 
and a murderer of the house of Plantagenet. Is an 
actor not justified in fashioning his appearance to suit 
the character ? Although deformed, would not this 
restless and sanguinary Richard, conscious of his 
strength of will his power of intellect his daring 
courage his elevated station lessen that deformity 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 253 

by the same arts he uses to disguise his murderous 
purposes ? Mr. Forrest s Richard was a great concep 
tion, and powerful in delineation ; he seemed the first 
tempter approaching his prey, clothed with all the at 
tributes of the basilisk to charm and allure. Shake 
speare has been accused of exaggerating the personal 
appearance of Richard, as well as that of his character. 
It will be observed, however, that the only one who 
descants upon his personal defects is Richard himself; 
hence the actor may infer that he distorts his person 
by viewing it through a mental glass, thus magnifying 
each and every defect. 

Richard III. and the Duke of Buckingham were 
both remarkable for their love of finery. This love of 
dress on the part of Richard did not develop itself 
until the effect of his extraordinary scene with Lady 
Anne became apparent ; it was then he exclaimed : 

" My dukedom to a beggarly denier, 
I do mistake my person all this while ; 
Upon my life, sJie finds, although I cannot, 
Myself to be a marvellous proper man ; 
I ll be at charges for a looking-glass, 
And entertain a score or two of tailors, 
To study fashion to adorn my body ; 
Since I am crept in favor with myself, 
I will maintain it with some little cost," etc. 

Why may we not infer that when Richard speaks of 
himself as being deformed and unfinished, and that the 
dogs barked at him as he passed along the streets, he it 
is, and not Shakespeare, who magnifies his deformities ? 
He mentally conjures up these defects, and contrasting 
his person with those who compose his brother s court, 
falls into a state of inquietude, and rails at nature for 
sending him into " this breathing world scarce half 
made up." Such, it is true, Shakespeare fashions his 



254 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

mind, and puts words into his mouth equally express 
ive ; but does not the interview with Lady Anne 
change this "fashion" of his mind and induce him to 
engage a score or two of tailors to " study fashions to 
adorn " his body ? 

Mr. Forrest took this view of Richard, and con 
veyed the idea of his deformity more by words than the 
presentation of an actual picture. If the other char 
acters in the tragedy looked upon Richard as one at 
whom the very dogs barked, or that Shakespeare in 
tended him to represent, stronger allusions would have 
been made to his personal appearance throughout the 
play. [See Sir Thomas Moore s " Relation of Richard/ 
and also " Fuller s Church History/ ] 

Mr. Forrest s portrait of Richard was taken from a 
copy of the original, as lithographed for the fifth 
volume of the " Parton Letters " this being historical, 
and taken in connection with the flattering description 
of the old Countess of Desmond, who had danced with 
him when he was Duke of Gloster, and is stated to 
have declared that he was the handsomest man in the 
room except his brother, King Edward VI. 

We called Mr. Forrest s attention to the portrait of 
Richard, as drawn by Shakespeare, and it was from 
this he should fashion his person; indeed, the very 
language required it. " Your Richard," we observed, 
"will never be popular if you insist upon represent 
ing him in the light the Countess of Desmond places 
him." 

"But her description, and that of Sir Thomas 
Moore, are historical." 

" True ; but it is not Shakespeare. Kean made 
him a c painted devil. The usurper considered his de- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 255 

formity as a neglect of nature, and supposes himself 
justified in taking revenge on the human society from 
which he is excluded by his mis-shapen trunk/ The 
difference between Kean and yourself is, that while he 
makes him 

" Deformed, unfinished, Bent before my time 
Into this breathing 1 world, scarce half made up, 
And that so lamely and unfashionable, 
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them, 

yon make up a very proper man." 

" True ; yet, if tradition had not thrown around 
the character these objectionable features, would not 
my version be more acceptable to the audience ? " 

" No, for tradition has given to the stage a Richard; 
you must trace it back to Shakespeare, even to the first 
representative under the eye of the immortal author 
himself. You cannot depart from this. Had Kean, 
Booth, and Cooper changed this traditionary picture, 
we question if Richard III. would be as popular as it 
is now. It is the character that renders it great; take 
that away, and what is left ? " 

" This, I admit, is a strong argument, but still I 
cannot so distort Richard." 

" Then, let me advise you to present him in the 
two pictures, one historical, the other Shakespeare." 

"How so?" 

" You make him history from the first to the last. 
Why not make him Shakespeare up to the wooing of 
Lady Anne ? He is here in all his deformity, for she 
says : 

" Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity/ 

These words will not apply to your Richard, but to 
that of Shakespeare s. Still, the lady listens to his 



256 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

vows, and is won by a tongue that can wheedle the 
devil." 

"Well, what then?" 

"Why, after this, follow history. Carry out the 
words of Kichard ; change your dress, and appear a 
very proper man, as fashioned by a score of tailors/ " 

Forrest laughed outright, and admitted the philos 
ophy, if he did not the correctness of our criticism. 

Apart from Mr. Forrest s conception of the char 
acter of Kichard, it was a masterly performance, and if 
he could have impressed his audience with the same 
idea he had of it, we should have had an American 
actor to claim the honor of being the best that ever 
trod the stage. As it is, the Kichard of Kean, and of 
Booth, overshadows that of Edwin Forrest s. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

MACBETH. NEW HEADINGS. CRITICISMS. DIVERSITY 

OF OPINION ABOUT CERTAIN PASSAGES. ENGLISH 

NOTICE OF FORREST S MACBETH. FORREST ELATED. 

WRITES AN INJUDICIOUS LETTER HOME. YOUTH 

AN EXCUSE. 

TI)ROPRIETY of fiction, solemnity, grandeur, and 
variety of action, are the chief features of this 
sublime tragedy, which has been pronounced in the 
Theatre, " the highest of all dramatic enjoyments." As 
it formed an important feature in Mr. Forrest s reper- 
torie of plays, and, indeed, in that of all other great 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 257 

actors, a few historic facts connected with, it may not 
be out of place in these Keminiscences. 

MACBETH. 

The progress of the action of this play is fearfully 
rapid, and seems to include but a few days ; though its 
precise historical duration cannot be ascertained. Boe- 
thus and Buchanan state that Duncan was murdered 
by his cousin-german, Macbeth, about A. D. 1040 or 
1045 ; and that the latter was slain by Macbeth in 
A. D. 1057 or 1061. 

The original narrative of these events is contained 
in the Scotorium Historian, of Hector Boethus ; whence 
it was translated into Scotch by John Bellenden, and 
afterwards into English by Eaphael Hollinshed, from 
whose chronicle Shakespeare closely copied. Malone 
placed the composition of the drama in 1606 ; and it 
has been regarded as the medium of dexterous and 
graceful flattery to James I., who was the issue of Ban- 
quo, and first united the three kingdoms of Britain; at 
the same time that the play adopted his well known 
notions on the subject of Demonology. Shakespeare 
derived much of his incantations from a manuscript 
tragic comedy, without date, by Thomas Middleton, 
called The Witch. We give the following extracts 
from The W T itch ; and it will appear very evident that 
Shakespeare had read the piece, and made considerable 
use of it. 

Hecate. (Ascending with the spirit.} 
" Now I go, now I fly, 
Malkin my sweet spirit and I. 
Oh ! what a dainty pleasure tis 
To ride in the air, 
Where the moon shines fair," etc. 
* * * * 

16 



258 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

A charm song (The witches going about the caul 
dron.) 

" Black spirits and white, red spirits and gray : 
Mingle, mingle, mingle ; you that mingle may." 
***** 

1st Witch." Here s the blood of a bat ; 

Hecate. Put in that ; oh ! put in that. 

2d Witch. Here s a libbard s bane ; 

Hecate. Put in again. 

1* Witch. The juice of toad ; the oil of adder ; 

2d Witch. Those will make the yonker madder," etc. 

In 1674, William Davenant altered the tragedy of 
Macbeth, introduced songs and the celebrated music of 
Matthew Locke. It was brought out in great splendor 
at the Duke s, Dorset Garden. 

The modern revival was produced at Drury Lane in 
1789, by John P. Kemble, and published in 1803, as 
performed at Co vent Garden. The part of Macbeth 
was one of this great actor s most admirable efforts, as 
it had also been of Garrick s. Mrs. Siddons played the 
character of Lady Macbeth on the 2nd of February, 
1785 ; previous to which Mrs. Pritchard was consid 
ered by far the most perfect Lady Macbeth of the age. 

Macbeth was first performed in this country by 
Hallam s company, March 3rd, 1768; Macbeth, Mr. 
Hallam, Lady Macbeth, Mrs. Douglass. 

Mr. Thomas A. Cooper, George Frederick Cooke, 
Edmund Kean, Lucius Junius Booth and E. L. Daven 
port, have distinguished themselves in the character of 
Macbeth. But public opinion, both in Europe and 
America has, we believe, decided that Mr. Edwin For 
rest s Macbeth is on the stage record given as only 
equalled by that of Garrick s. Mr. Macready s style of 
acting, although termed classical, was too cold and me 
chanical for the American people, and his delineations, 




- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 259 

or rather portraitures of the heroes of Shakespeare s 
plays, were deficient in the skill and management of 
the chiaro-scuro. His pictures generally were ungrace 
ful not from any deficiency on his part but a habit 
he had of attudinizing on mechanical rather than nat 
ural principles. 

Cooper, Fennel, and Edwin Forrest, relied more for 
effect on their assuming the character than in the en 
deavor to fashion the character to suit themselves. 
Thus, in their impersonations of Koman characters, 
they stood before us the panoplied spirits of the mighty 
dead. 

" Name to me yon Archen chief for bulk 
Conspicuous and for port. Taller indeed 
I may perceive than he, but with these eyes 
Saw never yet such dignity and grace." 

Macbeth is one of the noblest creations of Shake 
speare, and yet it was not one of Mr. Forrest s parts. 
It was at our suggestion he played it on one or more 
occasions, giving a reason for leaving it out of his role 
that he could not find a Lady Macbeth to aid him in 
rendering it in an effective manner. " You may re 
member/ said he, one day, "an article you wrote on 
the character of Macbeth, wherein you suggested a new 
business. I called the attention of Miss Wemyss 
(Mrs. Duffield) to the point, and stated that I en 
deavored on several occasions to have the passage 
given as you suggested." We annex the following 
extract from the article to which Mr. Forrest referred : 

"The character of Lady Macbeth has been the theme 
of many able criticisms. Mrs. Siddons has clearly analyzed 
it, and Mrs. Jamieson in her characteristics of Shake 
speare s female characters, most learnedly discusses the 
various questions relative to the sinfulness and crimes of 



260 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

this vile specimen of the most vicious of her sex. Lady 
Macbeth is not merely a fiend one whose soul has lost its 
divine attribute, and whose purposes are murderous and 
bloody but she is a woman of powerful intellect, and 
hence the influence she exercises over her husband. A 
writer speaking of her says: She overpowers Macbeth s 
mind and beats down his doubts and fears not by su 
perior talent, but by violence of will, by intensity of 
purpose. She does not even hear the whispers of con 
science. They are drowned in the whirlwind of her own 
thoughts. She has intellectually the terrible beauty of 
the Medusa of classic art. 

" Holinshead, speaking of Lady Macbeth, describes her 
* As burning with unquenchable desire to be a Queen. 

"Schlegel, the accomplished German lecturer on the 
plays of Shakespeare, says : * The wife of Macbeth con 
jured him not to let the opportunity slip of murdering 
the King. She urges him on with fiery eloquence, which 
has all the sophisms at command that serve to throw a 
false grandeur over crime. 

* ***** * * 

" Macbeth following immediately the receipt of the 
letter he had written to his wife announcing his arrival, 
is received by her with these words : 

" Great G-lamis ! worthy Cawdor ! 

Greater than both by the all hail hereafter. 

"To which Macbeth answers: 

" My dearest love, Duncan comes here to-night. 

" How does Lady Macbeth receive this intelligence 
from her lord? In the same tone, but with a decided 
marked emphasis, with the eyes fixed on those of her hus 
band, as if to read his inmost soul, she exclaims : 

" And when goes hence? 

" Macbeth sees not the deep hellish glance feels not 
the presence of a demon top full of direst cruelty 
the dream of murder, the vision raised by the Weird 
Sisters all have passed from his mind, and he naturally 
replies, * to-morrow. At that moment he meets the eye 
of his wife like an electric shock, the infernal spark acts 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 2G1 

npon his already overcharged brain he starts, gazes as 
if upon the fabled basilisk, and mutters in fear and dread, 
as if in presence of a supernatural being, 

" As he purposes. 

" Here it is they fully understand each other; thoughts 
and feelings are read and exchanged he looks through 
the windows of her mind into her very soul, and the dim 
chambers of his brain, the charnel house of bad thoughts 
are lit up with hellish fires ; he gazes upon his evil genius 
she speaks: 

" 0, never 
Shall sun that morrow see ! 

"The author here, who never loses sight of nature 
and truth, fully explains why Lady Macbeth gives her free 
thoughts speech 

" Your face, my Thane, is a book, where men 
May read strange matters. To beguile the time, 
Look like the time bear welcome in your eye, 
Your hand, your tongue ; look like the innocent flower, 
But be a serpent under it. He that is coming 
Must be provided for and you shall put 
This night s great business into my despatch, etc. 

"Lady Macbeth here takes the business at once in 
hand, for why ? because his nature 

" Is too full of the milk of human kindness, 
To catch the nearest way. " 

Mr. Forrest s Macbeth was a most finished per 
formance it was grand in conception, and Shake- 
sperian throughout. It is true, much of the real action 
of the play falls upon the actress, and the audience in 
many scenes entirely loses sight of Macbeth, in the 
interest they take in the bloody queen. The moment 
an actor finds the leading actress of a company to be 
considered a great Lady Macbeth, that moment he 
leaves Macbeth out from his role. We do not say 
Mr. Forrest displayed any such selfishness; on the 
contrary, he gave as a reason that generally the Lady 



262 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Macbe th s were very inferior. He, however, spoke 
highly of Mrs. J. W. Wallack and Mrs. Duffield in 
connection with the character. 

Mr. Forrest s Macbeth was also a great part before 
he left for England ; and although his conception of 
the character did not assimilate with our own, yet it 
made, as it did everywhere, a most powerful im 
pression. We annex another extract from a London 
paper : 

" Mr. Forrest s Macbeth was a masterly portraiture of 
the irresolute, ambitious and guilty Thane; too elaborate, 
perhaps, and overworked for some who take the simplicity 
of nature for their standard of excellence ; yet distin 
guished by those exquisite touches which mediocrity can 
never reach, and which it is the province of genius only to 
impart. In many instances, Mr. Forrest differed from the 
accustomed reading with judicious effect, in others he was 
not so happy. The delivery of his share of the dialogue 
in a whisper, after the murder was committed, produced a 
marked effect upon the auditory, and was a bold and 
original thought, and skilfully carried into execution." 

Mr. Forrest threw around his impersonation of this 
character, an air of wild, startling romance, which we 
consider as perfectly just, for the whole play of Mac 
beth, with its witches, its ghosts, and its music, is a 
melo-dramatic play, and as such was rendered by Mr. 
Forrest. 

It may be noticed that Mr. Forrest, like Macready, 
did not, in the commencement of a play, draw largely 
upon his powers, great as they were. In Othello, Da 
mon and Virginius, it was his habit to commence with a 
low voice and with a minimum of action. He allowed 
the passion of the piece to lead him on, circumstance 
by circumstance, until he reached, what, like Milton, he 
might call 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 263 

" The height of his great argument." 

If, in Lear there is a more immediate development 
of power, it is because Shakespeare s creation rendered 
it necessary in that case. In the character of Mac 
beth, we have an especial example of the actor s keep 
ing himself up for the greater scenes ; every moment in 
the play adds to the causes of his excitement, and 
draws out the passion in greater dignity and grandeur. 
When Macbeth first meets the witches the thought of 
evil has not crossed his mind ambition has not 
entered it and crime has been undreamed of. But 
their prophecies startle him and while his mind is 
thus in the commencement of its feverish anticipa 
tions, there comes the fulfilment of one prophecy, for 
Kosse hails him Thane of Cawdor an accession of 
dignity which the weird sisters had just forwarned 
him of. Then commences the swell of ambition, and 
step by step it is consummated ; as the river, small at 
its source, is swelling to a mighty flood, by the acces 
sion of auxiliary streams, until it reach the mighty 
ocean. 

We have always objected to Mr. Forrest s reading 
this passage thus : 

" If it were done, when tis done, then twere well 
It were done quickly, if the assassination 
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, 
With his surcease success." 

The old reading merely implies that if the deed is 
to be committed, the sooner the better. Mr. Forrest 
brought out a new and fuller meaning ; that the deed 
(as elevating him to empire) would be well if it were 
done ; and that if the murder could ensure success to 
his aims, it should be quickly done. The doubt is, 



264 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

not so much whether Duncan should be removed, as 
whether his removal would effect Macbeth s purpose of 
usurpation, Duncan s son being yet alive. 

In our humble opinion the passage should be read 
thus: 

" If it were done, when t is done, then t were well 
It were done quickly. If the assassination 
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch, 
With his surcease, success ; that but this blow 
Might be the be-all and the end-all here, 
BUT here upon this bank and shoal of time 
We d jump the life TO COME." 

The meaning in other phrase is this. ; T were well 
it were done quickly, if, when t is done, it were done, 
or at an end. If the assassination at the same moment 
that it ends Duncan s life, would ensure success if 
the crown could be enjoyed, Macbeth would stand the 
chance of what might happen in the future state. 

As this oft-mooted question possesses some degree 
of interest, from the fact that Mr. Forrest invariably 
read it as quoted above, it may be well to state here 
that he had high authority for its use. Writers, at 
least, dramatic ones, agree that there is what may be 
called " embarrassment in the language/ Yet will it 
be found admirably suited to the character of Macbeth. 
Still ambiguity is not exactly a fault of Shakespeare. 

" It were done quickly (on the instant) ; if the assassination- 
Could trammel up the consequence," etc. 

sounds well ; but does it not sound equally so to read 
it thus : 

" if the assassination 

Could trammel up the consequence, and catch 
With his surcease success ; that but this blow," etc. 

The dispute is simply on the application of terms. 
Macbeth begins the soliloquy in a measured tone : "If 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 205 

it were done" /. e., if the act of the murder were 
performed, even when Duncan was asleep, and was the 
final issue of the business 

" then t were well 

It were done quickly." 

He then commenced, taking a new view of the matter : 

" If the assassination 

Could trammel up the consequence," 

which implies merely the attainment of the object 
he aimed at, and which was conveyed in these words : 

" and catch 



"With his surcease success 



The question would here suggest itself, if there should 
not be a full period at the word " success," and the 
commencement of the next passage be looked upon as 
a new idea which strikes Macbeth at the moment, 
as thus : 

" that but this blow 

Might be the be-all, and the end-all here ; " 

and that he would run no risk as to futurity ? 
Worldly ambition is the first cause of this strange 
soliloquy, and fear of what comes after death the 
second. He grows still more nervous the further he 
argues the matter, and finally concludes to 

" proceed no further in this business." 

Dr. Jonson proposed an emendation of "its sur 
cease," instead of " his." Seymour, in his notes on 
Shakespeare, says : " His would wipe out a capital 
beauty in this speech. Macbeth enters, ruminating 
upon an action he is about to commit, and now for 
the first time discloses it ; imperfectly, however, by 
the use of his/ instead of the substantive to which 



266 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

in his mind it has reference ; and of surcease instead 
of a word of more open meaning. 

There are many passages in the play of Macbeth 
which have afforded food for criticism, time out of 
mind, not one of them deserving the time and atten 
tion devoted to them. Shakespeare has given us a 
standard, and as these very passages are given in the 
folio of 1623 properly, and it is to be presumed cor 
rectly punctuated, we see no good reason why they 
should be changed to suit different notions. To some 
of these we will allude. Mr. Forrest was a stickler 
to the text of Shakespeare, but he not unfrequently, 
unintentionally, we know, deviated somewhat from the 
original. We called his attention to his reading of 
the following passage, as a direct deviation from the 
text. Macbeth, addressing the ghost, says : 

" Hence ! horrible ! shadow ! 
Unreal ! mockery ! hence ! " 

Contrast this with the text, and the general man 
ner of reading it : 

" Hence horrible shadow ! 
Unreal mockery, hence ! " 

[Old edition.] 

Mr. Cooper was at one period severely criticised for 
reading that well-known passage "If trembling, I 
inhibit thee," thus: using inhabit instead of inhibit. 
The fact is, this is the original, and is to be found in 
old English folios. Pope changed it to inhibit, as was 
said, through his ignorance of old English literature. 
The true and literal meaning of the word is to be found 
in the following reading : 

" If trembling I do Jwitse me then, protest me 
The baby of a girl." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 267 

Macbeth wishes the Ghost distinctly to know that 
he will not seek a habitation, or stay at home, on the 
occasion of his challenge. Inhibit is a substitute word, 
and does not carry out the idea of the poet. 

Pope did not show his ignorance of " old English 
literature/ inasmuch as the definition given by good 
authorities to the true meaning and application of the 
words are nearly the same : " Inhabit " to have, to 
hold, or keep himself, to dwell, to reside, to remain or 
abide. " Inhibit " to hold, to restrain, to withhold, 
to prevent, to forbid. In an old edition of Macbeth 
the passage is given thus : 

" Be alive againe 

And dare me to the desert with thy sword 
If trembling, I inhabit (inhibit) then protest mee 
The baby of a girle." 

There is another passage which a diversity of opin 
ion has made popular, and is one which we think the 
actor is justified in reading either way. Mr. Forrest 
read it thus : 

" Hang out our banners on the outward walls, 
The cry is still they come." 

Others again, read it thus : 

" Hang out our banners. On the outward walls 
The cry is, still they come. " 

It frequently struck us that the latter was the most 
correct : as banners on the outward walls of the old 
castles would not have been in accordance with Scottish 
customs ; the banner was generally placed in the cen 
tre, or keep. Even in times of peace, this banner was 
often raised ; but in time of war it was the signal of 
defiance. This being the case, and the "outward 



2G8 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

walls " lined with armed men, it may be read with 
equal dramatic effect, thus : 

" Hang 1 out our banners : 
On the outer wall the cry is still they come." 

As those on the outward walls had much better op 
portunity of seeing the approach of the enemy than 
those inside, it is natural to suppose the cry would 
come from them. 

With all our admiration of Mr. Forrest, his genius, 
judgment, and general character, we cannot pass over 
one period in his dramatic career without comment. 
He too readily fell a victim to the flattery of the Eng 
lish press, whose criticisms he extolled at the expense 
of our own. Not that alone, but he cast a reflection 
on the literary taste and character of the community 
at large. We contend, and with reason too, that there 
is as much theatrical talent in this country as there is 
in England, and that our critics are far more indepen 
dent than those of that country. The history of the 
English drama furnishes us many instances of the 
mendacity of the press ; and when it openly advocates 
the claims of prostitutes and noble seducers, it is not 
to be wondered at that the pure character of our drama 
and press becomes infected, when writers and actors 
from abroad come among us and exercise their influence 
here over both the press and the stage. 

Having already spoken of the press, and its favora 
ble notice during Mr. Forrest s first visit to Europe, we 
now introduce Mr. Forrest s letter. That he wrote it 
under the pleasing emotions created by his success, we 
do not question ; and the remembrance of certain crit 
iques published in this country, written by foreigners, 
were no doubt rankling in his breast. Every allowance 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 269 

must be made ; but if the tenor of the letter be true, 
we can only regret the absence of a standard of criti 
cism amongst us, and thank the American tragedian for 
enlightening us on the subject. We give the letter 
entire, that we may not be accused of publishing a gar 
bled statement of it. We have italicized the passages 
alluded to : 

" My success in England has been very great. 

While the people evinced no great admiration of the 
Gladiator, they came in crowds to witness my personation 
of Othello, Lear and Macbeth. I commenced my engage 
ment on the 17th of October, 1837, at Old Drury, and ter 
minated it on the 19th of December, having acted in all 
thirty-two nights, and represented those three characters 
of Shakespeare twenty-four out of the thirty-two, namely, 
Othello nine times, Macbeth seven, and King Lear eight 
this last having been repeated oftener by me than by any 
other actor on the London boards, in the same space of 
time, except Kean alone. This approbation of my Shake 
speare parts gives me peculiar pleasure, as it refutes the 
opinions very confidently expressed by a certain clique at 
home, that I would fail in those characters before a 
London audience. 

" But it is not only from my reception within the walls 
of the theatre that I have reason to be pleased with my 
English friends. I have received many grateful kindnesses 
in their hospitable homes, and in their intellectual circles 
have drank both instruction and delight. I suppose you 
saw in the newspapers that a dinner was given to me by the 
Garrick Club. Sergeant Talfourd presided, and made a 
very happy and complimentary speech, to which I replied. 
Charles Kemblc and Mr. Macready were there. The lat 
ter gentleman has behaved in the handsomest manner to 
me. Before I arrived in England he had spoken of me in 
the most flattering terms, and on my arrival he embraced 
the earliest opportunity to call upon me, since which time 
he has extended to me many delicate courtesies and atten 
tions, all showing the native kindness of his heart, and great 
refinement and good breeding. The dinner at the Garrick 
was attended by many of the most distinguished men. 



270 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" I feel under great obligations to Mr. Stephen Price, 
who has shown me not only the hospitalities which he 
knows so well how to perform, but many other attentions 
which have been of great service to me, and which, from 
his long experience in theatrical matters, he was more com 
petent to render than any other person. He has done me 
the honor to present me with a copy of Shakespeare, and 
a Richard s sword, which were the property of Kean. 
Would that he could bestow upon me his mantle instead 
of his weapon ! Mr. Charles Kemble, too, has tendered 
me, in the kindest manner, two swords, one of which be 
longed to his truly eminent brother, and the other to the 
great Talma, the theatrical idol of the grand nation. 

" The London press, as you probably have noticed, have 
been divided concerning my professional merits; though 
as a good republican I ought to be satisfied, seeing I had 
an overwhelming majority on my side. There is a degree 
of dignity and critical precision and force in their articles 
generally (I speak of those against as w^ell as for me, and 
others, also, of which my acting was not the subject), that 
place them far above the neicspaper criticisms of stage per 
formances which we meet with in our country. Their com 
ments always show one thing that they have read and 
appreciated the writing of their chief dramatists / while 
with us there are many who would hardly know, were it not 
for the actors, that Shakespeare had ever existed. The 
audiences, too, have a quick and keen perception of the 
beauties of the drama. They seem, from the timeliness 
and proportion of their applause, to possess a previous 
knowledge of the text. They applaud warmly, but season 
ably. They do not interrupt a passion, and oblige the actor 
to sustain it beyond the propriety of nature ; but if he 
delineates it forcibly and truly, they reward him in the 
intervals of the dialogue. Variations from the accustomed 
modes, though not in any palpable new readings, which, 
for the most part are bad readings, for there is generally 
but one mode positively correct, and that has not been left 
for us to discover ; but slight changes in emphasis, tone, or 
action, delicate shadings and pencilings, are observed with 
singular and most gratifying quickness. You find that 
your study of Shakespeare has not been thrown away ; 
that your attempt to grasp the character in its gross and 
scope? as well as in its detail, so as not merely to know how 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 271 

to speak what is written, but to preserve its truth and keep 
ing in a new successio?i of incidents, could it be exposed to 
them you find that this is seen and appreciated by the 
audience j and the evidence that they see and feel, is given 
with an emphasis and heartiness that make the theatre 
shake." 

The only cause Mr. Forrest had to question the 
Shakesperian knowledge of his countrymen, was a few 
isolated criticisms upon his acting, which we can prove 
in every instance emanated from foreign pens. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

HOME. LETTERS TO THE AUTHOR. FORREST THINKS 

OF HOME. POSTAL MATTERS. QUACK MEDICINE. 

DEATH IN THE POT. GLAD TO HEAR OF FOR- 

NEY S RESIGNATION. A LEAKY HOUSE. BAD 

ACTORS. CRITICISM. JOSEPH MARDLE. 

TT7~E have numerous letters from Mr. Forrest. The 
selection here made is to show the character of 
the man as drawn from an epistolary point of view. In 
fact, a man s letters are the index to his mind. They 
show a love of home, of friends, and those who make 
up his household. They show that, although absent, 
the heart is still linked to home. 

We often thought how appropriate the following 
lines of Goldsmith were to Mr. Forrest ; for, although 
he had not those tender ties to bind him to home ties 
of wife and children still he had all the feeling which 
links man to his homestead. It will be seen from a 
few extracts we have made from his letters, that 



272 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

although there was no one to welcome him no kindred, 
no one to hurry through the long corridors of his splen 
did mansion, and clasp him with fond arms no one to 
cry out, " Papa s come ! " yet the home had a charm, 
its only charm his library ; this he called " the soul of 
his household." To him it was. We give the lines 
which we deemed so applicable to Mr. Forrest : 

HOME. 

" In all my wand rings round this world of care, 
In all my grief and God has given my share 
I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown, 
Amid these humble bowers to lay me down ; 
To husband out life s taper at the close, 
And keep the flame from wasting my repose ; 
I still had hopes, for pride attends me still, 
Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill, 
Around my fire an evening group to draw, 
And tell of all I felt and all I saw ; 
And as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, 
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew, 
I still had hopes, my long vexations past, 
Here to return, and die at home at last" 

LETTERS. 

" You have frequently promised me to make a collec 
tion of my letters (if in truth there be any which deserves 
a preference), and give them to the public. I have select 
ed them accordingly." 

During Mr. Forrest s absence from the city we had 
charge of his house, as stated in a former part of these 
reminiscences. A large willow tree stood immediately 
in the rear of his library, whose branches overshadowed 
the whole portion of his back building, keeping the sun 
light (in which he so often basked) from penetrating 
into the room. We had this tree cut down, and in a 
letter describing the appearance of the library, the effect 
of the light upon each object within its range, and the 
cheerfulness prevailing in the absence of the dark shade 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 273 

from the tree, we received a letter from him, from which 
we make the following extract : 

" CINCINNATI, OHIO, November 1st, 18?1. 
u JAMES REES, ESQ.: Dear Friend: * * * How 
much I wish I could have stood with you in the library 
on Sunday, amid the pleasant memories of that Soul 
of the Household. Your vivid description of the scene 
made me sigh for home again. With many thanks, my 
dear friend, for kind and thoughtful offices in my behalf, 
" I am yours truly, 

"EDWIN FORREST. 

"P. S. Mr. McArdle s regards to you, and thanks you 
for kind remembrances of him." 

" KANSAS CITY (Mo.), December 27th, 1871^ 
" DEAR FRIEND REES : I received your letter without 
date, but postmarked the 13th hist., at Nashville (Tenn.), 
the other day, together with the letters you did me the 
favor to forward from my house. * * * I am glad 
to hear that everything is right about the homestead, and 
that the garden is improved by sunlight cheerfulness, since 
the shade trees were removed. I long to see it under the 
influence of bright skies again. I wrote and sent you a 
long letter from Galveston, Texas, which, as you have not 
acknowledged, I suppose has been purloined with other 
letters containing money which I sent to others. I will 
never again trust money in a post office letter/ 

The attention of the postal department about this 
time was called to the sad state of the post office in Texas, 
and to the loss of letters between certain points in that 
State and Northern cities. Several special agents were 
detailed to examine into the matter. The following 
gentlemen were selected from the department for that 
purpose : Major E. R. Petherbridge, Col. E. K. Shan- 
netts, and Col. John Peddrick. The account given to 
the department being a " state affair/ we can only al 
lude to it here. Suffice however to say there have been 
fewer complaints made since. This is in part owing to 
17 



274 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

the " Money Order System/ which should be as uni 
versal as it is safe. 

Mr. Forrest goes on to say in this letter : 



" I herewith send you some newspaper notices, and 
would call your attention to the long article on Lear, from 
the New Orleans Republican, which is evidently written 
with unusual power, struggling through former prejudices. 
It is, however, well worth reading. 

****** 

"I had an awful attack of the gout while in Galves- 
ton, brought on by taking a medicine for the cure of that 
disease. The doctor told me it would reproduce all the 
excessive paroxysms of the gout, which I must bear, and so 
finally cure it. But my professional duties prevented me 
fr*m going through the grinding mill, until such time as 
I shall have leisure to endure and win. I have the utmost 
confidence in the curative qualities of the medicine, which 
is as pleasant to imbibe as a mint julep in fly time. 
Only think of that ; a physic which is at once delicious and 
curative. I will give it a fair trial next summer, if I 

"EDwnr FORREST." 



All that we have to say here is, that the medicine, so 
delightful to the sense of taste, came very near sending 
the victim of its trials to an untimely grave. We do not 
think we ever saw a man nearer death s door than was 
Mr. Forrest after he had taken four bottles of this 
most vile nostrum. We use the word vile in its appli 
cation to the nature, not the taste of the medicine. 
We suggested to Mr. Forrest, after he recovered from 
the attack, to put this label on the few remaining bot 
tles left : 

" There is death in the pot." 2 Kings, iv : 40. 

We had enclosed to Mr. Forrest, during his engage 
ment at Pittsburg, an article written by some astute 
critic of this city, on Mr. E. L. Davenport s Hamlet, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEKEST. 275 

wherein it was said that that gentleman read a line 
thus: 

" Nym ph, in thy horizons 
Be all my sins remember d." 

Now, Mr. Davenport said nothing of the sort, but 
the sapient critic s ear depended more upon that organ 
than he did upon common sense and critical acumen. 
Even, however, if Mr. Davenport had used the word 
"horizons," instead of "orisons," he had authority for 
it, although the critic knew it not. Extract from Mr. 
Forrest s letter : 

" ST. CHARLES HOTEL, > 
"PiTTSBUHG, January 28th, 1872.} 

" JAMES REES, ESQ : Dear Friend: I duly received 
your favor of 24th instant. Send you herein two checks; 
one of them for $128.50, due G. B. Moore, and the 
other, Frank W. Taylor, for $21.50, per bills rendered. 
Mr. Hubert s bill you will please pay when due from funds 
already in your hands, and also Mr. Ralston s account, as 
per your statement, $23.91. 

" Mr. E. L. Davenport has authority for his saying in 
Hamlet " horizon," for it is given so in the 3d, 4th and 5th 
quartos, as well as hi the 1st. The H is a cockney super 
fluity, etc." 

PITTSBUKG, Pa., February 22nd, 1872. 
" A friend of mine, Mr. James P. Barr, editor and pro 
prietor of the Daily Post, in this city, will call to see the 
pictures, library, etc., in my house, corner of Broad and 
Master streets. I am sure you will find much pleasure in 
extending to him any affable courtesies, for he is a 
good one, and his worthiness doth challenge much re 
spect. I am glad to hear everything is right at the house, 
and that the trees and bushes in the garden have been 
pruned and trimmed under your careful instructions. 
Those apple trees required a good deal of pruning. I look 
forward with great pleasure to the opening of spring, 
when I shall be at home once more to enjoy in peace its 
calm and pleasant comforts after the turmoil and excite- 



276 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

merit consequent upon the discharge of my professional 
labors and the weariness of continued travel. * * * * 

" I was glad to hear friend Forney has resigned his 
office of Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, and here 
after if he makes any change in the future, let it be for the 
highest post of honor the Senate of the United States. 

"You did just what was right in having the roofs 
repaired and painted when they so much needed it, and 
without consulting me, for such delay might have proved 
very injurious to the property. I am glad you acted so 
promptly and efficiently, and the bills for the work are not 
too high. [The reason we acted so promptly was, that 
during a very heavy rain the water came through the ceil 
ing of the picture-gallery, and one or two rooms in the 
attic were inundated.] ****** 

" As the girls, Lizzie and Kate, must need money, pay 
the former $42, and the latter $35, and oblige 

"Yours truly, " EDWIN FOKREST." 

" PITTSBURG, PA., January 22nd, 1872. 

"DEAR FRIEND REES: Your letter of the 19th inst. 
is just received, which I should have got yesterday but 
that I arrived here after the post-office had closed. Your 
letter of the 10th inst. I duly received at St. Louis. Many 
thanks for your kind and friendly attentions to my affairs 
during my absence. Make yourself at home in my library, 
for I often picture you in my mind s eye seated near the 
Dramatic collection, and poring over the works of your 
favorite authors. Have you published your article enti 
tled Shakespeare and Bacon ? * * * I wish 
you could have seen some of the plays as we acted 
them at St. Louis. Oh ! such a wretched company worse 
than I ever met with all wretchedly bad ; but one woman 

reached the depths of d n. She got through Desde- 

mona, knowing only about fifteen lines of the Shake- 
sperian text, all the rest being improvised and attempted 
to be uttered with the sweet German accent, mingled with 
Cuban patois and negro French ! The representative of 
fair Desdemona was, as I learned, a native Cuban, and 

afterwards educated at Munich. It was the thing I 

ever saw, and yet some of the St. Louis papers actually 
commended her performance. 

" Yours, truly, " EDWIN FORREST." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 277 



We had called Mr. Forrest s attention to a passage 
in Othello, as rendered in the acting copy, to read : 
" Thou hadst better have been born a dog, lago," etc., 
instead of as printed in the folio of 1623, thus : 

" Thou hadst been better have been born a dog, 
Than answer my wak d wrath." 

This omission of the word "lago," and transpo 
sition of the words "been" and "better," seems to 
have been changed long subsequent to the. early quarto 
and folio editions of Shakespeare s plays. Mr. For 
rest s reply to us was to this effect : 

" PHILADELPHIA, November 19th, 1869. 

" MY DEAR MR. REES : The line in the first four folios 
reads : Thou hadst been better have been born a dog, 
which is evidently a blunder of the type-setter. Shake 
speare never involved a sentence in that way. Garrick, 
Kemble, Cooke and Kean spoke the line as I do, thus : 
* Thou hadst better have been born a dog, lago ; which is 
both the measure and rhythm, etc. 

"EDWIN FORREST." 

Subsequently, we told Mr. Forrest that it was 
scarcely possible the "type-setter" would take the lib 
erty of changing a whole sentence, and substituting a 
word to make the measure and the rhythm more per 
fect, at least in his estimation ; a liberty that type 
setters have no right to take with the author s copy. 

We are under the impression that this change in 
the original text was made about the year 1750. In 
Cumberland s edition of the " British Theatre," Lon 
don, 1829, there is an allusion made to this passage, 
but as we have no copy of the work, we cannot quote 
the passage here. We have a prompter s copy of 
Othello, as performed at Drury Lane Theatre, pub- 



278 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

lished with notes in the year 1777, with the modern 
interpretation of the passage. 

" PHILADELPHIA, November 29th, 1869. 
" JAMES REES, ESQ. Dear /Sir : I have just received 
your note of this day. I thank you for correcting my mis 
take ahout Othello. I erroneously supposed it had not 
been printed until its appearance in the folio of 1623. I 
was wrong ; I had confounded it with Macbeth. Othello, 
in quarto form, was printed by N. O. for Thomas Wath- 
lery, in 1622 ; and another edition, without date, after that ; 
and another still, printed by A. M., for Richard Hawkins, 
in 1630. I have no copy of the quarto of 1622. 

"EDWIK FORREST." 

The first published edition of Othello was in a 
quarto pamphlet (1622), the original of which has now 
become one of the scarcest of books, for which rich bib 
liomaniacs have paid fabulous prices. 

Whenever Mr. Forrest heard of any one of his 
friends being sick, he inquired very particularly about 
the nature of the disease. In 1868, the writer of this 
had a very severe attack of erysipelas. It affected the 
head and eyes particularly, and for awhile kept us from 
the office. Mr. Forrest had been looking over medical 
books, and having obtained a knowledge of this terrible 
complaint, he found, as he thought, a radical cure, and 
sent us immediately the following note : 

" PHILADELPHIA, November 14th, 1868. 
" JAMES REES, ESQ. My Dear /Sir : I should like to 
have a friendly chat with you to-morrow, say about twelve 
o clock, if you can make it convenient to call at my house. 
Among other things, I should like to discuss the best 
means of cure for the erysipelas. Yours truly, 

FORREST." 



The recipe given us, and which we used, has been 
mislaid, the loss of which we most sincerely regret. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 279 

JOSEPH MCARDLE, ESQ. 

The name of this gentleman is mentioned in one 
of the letters given before. Our readers are no doubt 
aware that he was Mr. Forrest s business agent, in whose 
hands the tragedian placed the whole management of his 
dramatic engagements, arranging terms, etc., thus giv 
ing him full control over all financial matters connected 
with his performances. A more energetic, faithful and 
reliable man does not exist than Mr. Joseph McArdle. 
An intimate acquaintance of Mr. Forrest s for upwards 
of thirty years, fifteen of which he had been his faith 
ful steward, he enjoyed not only the confidence of his 
employer, but was his companion and friend. To the 
writer of this Mr. Forrest often expressed the high es 
teem he had of Mr. McArdle: who, he said, was "re 
liable, trustworthy, and studied my interests more than 
his own. As a business man he has no equal. I do 
not know what I should do without him." Such was 
Mr. Forrest s opinion of Mr. Joseph McArdle. 

The executors of the estate of the deceased will no 
doubt retain this gentleman as one of the active agents 
of the " Edwin Forrest Home," which was the intention 
of the testator, as the writer of this can fully testify. 

" Man proposes, but God disposes." 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

MR. FORREST S RELIGION. LOVER OF NATURE. LET 
TER TO A FRIEND. "MY MOTHER." WAS SHAKE 
SPEARE A ROMAN CATHOLIC ? MUSIC IN CATHE 
DRALS. KING JOHN. SHAKESPEARE AND THE 

BIBLE. 

" Nature is the glass reflecting God, 
As by the sea reflected is the sun, 
Too glorious to be gazed on in his sphere." 

AS regards Mr. Forrest s religious belief, we do not 
think there is a man living enabled to connect it 
with any of the prominent denominations of the day. 
His was a belief founded upon the principles which 
governed humanity, and considered as a direct law em 
anating from Deity. "Deity/ he observed, "must be 
just, otherwise man could not have the reverence for 
his laws which is so essential to a proper appreciation 
of his Divine character." He respected the church and 
her members, but never expressed an opinion in favor 
of any particular one. Forrest admired everything 
that was beautiful in nature and art. He would talk 
to you of flowers give their botanical names ; and 
also those of various plants. When riding out with 
him through the romantic grounds of the Park, every 
object of a natural character attracted his attention. 
Nature to him in these rides was the medium through 
which he raised his eyes to Deity ; and he would quote 

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LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 281 

some favorite author in praise of her wondrous charms, 
and then refer to others speaking of Him, their creator. 
His remarks and observations, as we rode along the 
banks of the Wissahickon, evidenced a mind imbued 
with the true spirit of religion ; the religion of the 
soul not of the church. It was during these rambles 
over hills and valleys, along streams and through woods 
we learned more of Mr. Forrest and his belief 
more of his inner life than we did in the many years 
of his active dramatic career. We knew him then in 
the " Mimic World" we know him now in the great. 
In the first, he was the creature of art; in the second, 
he was the student of nature. 

It was, at one time, stated that Mr. Forrest had 
been converted ; rumor gave it out that he was study 
ing for the ministry. He wrote a letter to a friend, 
from which we make an extract : 

" But in answer to your questions, my good friend, for 
I know you are animated only by a sincere regard for my 
spiritual as well as for my temporal welfare, I am happy 
to assure you that the painful attack of inflammatory rheu 
matism, with which for the last three months I have corn- 
batted, is now quite overcome, and I think I may safely 
say that, with the return of more genial weather, I shall be 
restored once more to a sound and pristine health. 

" Then, for the state of my mind ; I do not know the 
time since, when a boy, I blew sportive bladders in the 
beamy sun, that it ever was so tranquil and serene as in the 
present hour. Having profited by the leisure given me by 
my lengthened illness seriously to review the past and 
carefully consider the future, both for time and for eterni 
ty, I have, with a chastened spirit, beheld with many re 
grets that there was much in the past that might have 
been improved more, perhaps, in the acts of omission 
than in acts of commission ; for I feel sustained that my 
whole conduct has been actuated solely by an honest desire 
to adhere strictly to the rule of right ; that the past has 



282 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

been characterized as I trust the future will be to love 
my friends ; to hate my enemies for I cannot be a hypo 
crite and to live in accordance with the Divine precept : 
1 As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to 
them likewise. 

" And now for that higher welfare of which you 
speak. I can only say that, believing as I sincerely do, in 
the justice, the mercy, the wisdom, and the love of Him 
who knoweth the secrets of our hearts, I hope I may with 

" An unfaltering trust approach my grave 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams. " 

In speaking one day of the many temptations to 
which youth was subject, and of those whose connec 
tions with the stage had brought them to an untimely 
grave, we asked " How is it that you have escaped 
all these dangerous quicksands ? Few men have had 
such temptations held out to them as you have ; few 
men of your age and impulsive nature have resisted 
them." 

" True/ he said, " I have had temptations, nor 
have I resisted them on the instant ; the moment, how 
ever, when on the eve of becoming the inebriate or the 
gambler, and disgracing my profession, the words of my 
mother came up, angel-like, and checked me in my ca 
reer. I may have faults ; I have elicited censure from 
the world ; but I flattered myself that the correction of 
youthful errors, and strict attention to my duties as an 
actor, have, in a measure, redeemed these faults. To 
the early lessons taught by my mother, and those of 
the good old pastor of St. Paul s Church, am I indebted 
for all the good that is in me. I do not say that they 
have made me what the world calls a religious man, 
but they taught me to appreciate all that is good and 
noble in man ; and to love and admire all that is bright 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKKEST. 283 

and beautiful in the world, with due reverence to Him 
who created it." The words, " To my Mother ! " as 
spoken by Mr. Forrest, sounded as the heart s epitaph 

TO HER MEMORY. 

Mr. Forrest at one time conceived the notion that 
Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic ; there is nothing 
in the writings of this great man to justify that idea. 
Nearly all the passages in the works of Shakespeare 
of a religious or doctrinal character have at different 
times been brought before the reader. The object was 
to disabuse the mind of Catholics, that Shakespeare 
did not belong to their order. In 1843, nearly all the 
passages in the several plays of the bard, of this charac 
ter, were published by Sir Frederick B. Watson, K. C. 
H., in a very elegant volume, printed for the benefit of 
the members of the two principal theatres of London. 
We called Mr. Forrest s attention to this little book, 
as also to other passages, not included in this work, 
wherein Shakespeare denounces the Church of Rome in 
the most unmeasured terms. It may be said that these 
denunciations are those of the personages of the plays, 
and not the sentiments of the author. True, in some 
cases, we admit this is the case, for Lord Byron was 
denounced an infidel for the words he puts into the 
mouth of Lucifer in his great poem of " Cain." But 
no true Catholic would put words into the mouth of 
the historical or fictitious character of his dramas de 
nouncing the church of which he was a member, par 
ticularly that of the Church of Rome sacred from 
the corner-stone to the big toe of the Pope. 

Shakespeare was no Catholic neither was Mr. For 
rest. Mr. Forrest always spoke in the highest terms of 



284 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

the music of our churches more particularly that of 
the Catholic. " The latter reminds me/ said he, " of 
a passage in an old rare book ; the original is not in my 
library, but it is quoted in a work on the stage. I will 
read it to you." Taking it from the shelf, he said : 
" The author, it seems, was speaking of the origin of 
the Ode and Chorus in honor of the heathen gods, 
and connecting them with the psalms of David and the 
song of Moses, on the deliverance of the Israelites from 
then* Egyptian oppressors, and goes on to say : c The 
music of the Temple was unquestionably beyond all 
conception magnificent and grand. Many of the 
psalms are little dramas, and were sung as dialogue ; 
a part by the priests, and answers to their parts were 
finely interwoven, when at other times all Israel joined 
in chorus. Psalm ii. : ch. xxxv., and many others, are 
fine specimens of this sort of poetry. The style of their 
music was probably much more solemn and simple than 
ours, and the instruments whereby it was conducted, 
powerful in a high degree. Perhaps nothing so nearly 
represented the joys of Heaven above, like the singing 
of the psalms of David in the temples of old/ 

"Only imagine," says he, "all Israel joining in 
chorus. I think/ he continued, "the Catholics are the 
only denomination at the present who take this view of 
music in their churches, and that is one reason while in 
Europe I visited them on every occasion my time and 
business permitted." 

Mr. Forrest, while in Paris, went in company with 
the Kev. E. L. Magoon, of Philadelphia, to hear a cel 
ebrated Catholic priest, whose reputation as an orator 
was national and historical. The music of the choir, he 
said, surpassed anything he ever heard. If we mistake 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 285 

not, the Koyal family were present. The priest, he 
said, fully sustained his reputation as an orator fully 
carried out the ancient idea that oratory was a funda 
mental principle and frequently inculcated that the 
orator ought to be an accomplished scholar, and con 
versant in every part of learning. 

The passages to which we called Mr. Forrest s at 
tention in defence of our argument, that Shakespeare 
was no Catholic, we annex. Shakespeare was baptized 
in the ordinary way ; the old broken font in which the 
poet was christened, still exists ; it is, however, but a 
fragment, the upper portion only remaining. It is now 
in possession of the family of Mr. Heritage, a builder at 
Stratford. It was here Shakespeare was christened, at 
an established place of worship in the parish. He was 
educated and brought up in the Protestant faith, by 
good Protestant parents, in which faith he lived and 
died. He was certainly not a Catholic when he wrote 
"King John/ first printed in 1596. This passage 
alone in sufficient to show the absurdity of his being 
other than a true Protestant : 

King John Act III. Scene 1. 
K. Philip. " Here comes the holy leg-ate of Rome. 

[Enter Pandi(lph.~] 

Pandulph. Hail, you anointed deputies of heaven. 
To thee, King John, my holy errand is. 
I, Pandulph, of fair Milan, Cardinal, 
And from Pope Innocent, the leg-ate here, 
Do in his name religiously demand, 
Why thou against the church, our holy mother, 
So wilfully dost spurn ; and, force perforce 
Keep Stephen Langton, chosen Archbishop 
Of Canterbury, from that Holy See ? * 

King John. "What earthly name to interrogatories 
Can task the free breath of a sacred King ? 
Thou canst not, Cardinal, devise a name 
So slight, unworthy and ridiculous, 
To charge me to an answer, as the Pope. 



286 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Tell him this tale ; and from the mouth of England, 
Add thus much more, that no Italian priest 
Shall tithe or toll in our dominions. 

******* 

So tell the Pope ; all reverence set apart 
To him, and his usurp d authority. 

K. Philip. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this. 

K. John. Though you, and all the kings of Christendom, 
Are led so grossly by this meddling priest, 
Dreading the curse that money may buy out, 
And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust, 
Purchase corrupted pardon of a man, 
Who, in that sale, sells pardon from himself; 
Though you, and all the rest, so grossly led, 
This juggling witchcraft -vrith revenue cherish ; 
Yet I, alone, do me oppose 
Against the Pope, and count his friends my foes. 

Pandulph. Then by the lawful power that I have, 
Thou shalt stand cursed and excommunicate." 

In the first part of King Henry VI. our readers 
will find the following (Act I., Scene 3) a scene be 
tween Winchester and Gloster : 

Win. " How now, ambitious Humphrey ! What means this ? 

Glos. Piel d priest, dost thou command me to be shut out ? * 

Win. I do, thou most usurping proditer, 
And not protector, of the king and realm. 

Glos. Stand back, thou manifest conspirator ; 
Thou that contriv dst to murder our dear lord ; 
Thou that giv st whores indulgence to sin. f 
I ll canvas thee in thy broad cardinal s hat, 
If thou proceed in this thy insolence. 

Win. Nay, stand thou back ; I will not budge a foot. 
This be Damascus ; be thou cursed Cain, 
To slay thy brother Abel, if thou wilt. 

Glos. I will not stay thee, but I ll drive thee back. 
Thy scarlet robes, as a child s bearing cloth, 
I ll use to carry thee out of this place. 

* " Piel d priest." Piel d is what is now usually spelt peel d, and in 
the folio of 1623 the orthgraphy is picld. It occurs in the same sense 
in Measure for Measure. The allusion is to the shaven crown of the 
Bishop of Winchester. 

f The public stews in Southwalk were under the jurisdiction of 
the Bishop of Winchester. In the office book of the court all fees 
were entered that were paid by the keepers of these brothels the 
church reaping the advantages of these pests to society. 

\ " This be Damascus, be thou cursed Cain," etc. In " The Travels 
of Sir John Mandeville," we find this passage : " And in that place, 
where Damascus was founded, Kayn sloughe Abel his brother." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 287 

Win. Do what them dar st. I ll beard thee to thy face, 

Glos. What ! Am I dar d and bearded to my face ? 
Draw, men, for all this privileged place ; 
Blue coats to tawny coats.* Priest, beware your beard, 

[Gloster and his men attack the bishop.] 
I mean to tug- it, and cuff you soundly. 
Under my feet I stamp thy cardinal s hat, 
In spite of pope or dignities of church ; 
Here by the cheeks I drag thee up and down. 

Win. Gloster, thou lt answer this before the pope. 

Glos. Winchester goose ! f I cry a rope ! a rope I 
Now bear them hence ; why do you let them stay ? 
Thee I ll chase hence, thou wolf in sheep s array. 
Out, tawny coats ! out, scarlet hypocrite." \ 

When these passages were brought before Mr. For 
rest, and which he made copies himself from the folio 
of 1623, he gave one of his peculiar smiles, and said, 
" Shakespeare was a great man, sir/ 

Shakespeare s familiarity with the Bible we con 
sider one of the most striking proofs of his religious 
tendencies. This knowledge far surpasses that of his 
legal and medical acquirements, and ranks second only 
to that of his literary attainments. The Bible and 
Shakespeare are synonymed. In fact we may sum up 
his wonderful power and genius in the one line of 
Dr. Johnson, who in praise of Shakespeare says : 

" That he exhausted worlds, and then imagined new." 

* Tawny coats were worn by the attendants of the Bishop. Stow, 
in a passage quoted by Stevens, speaks on one occasion of the Bishop 
of London, who was " attended on by a goodly company of gentle 
men in tawny coats." Gloster s men wore blue coats. 

f " Winchester goose." That the reader may better understand 
the terrible words of Gloster addressed to the Bishop and the insult 
aimed at his church, the word goose was a particular stage of the dis 
ease contracted in the stews. Hence Gloster bestows the epithet on 
the bishop in derision and scorn, referring to his licentious life so 
strongly painted in Act III., Scene 1, of this most extraordinary 
play. 

\ We have no doubt but Shakespeare introduced these terrible 
passages against the Church of Eome to please Queen Elizabeth, 
tshe having been trained up in a hatred of Popery. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

MR. FORREST S CHARITY. HOW HE DISPENSED IT. THE 
ACTOR S WIDOW. THE DUTIFUL SON. PLEASING 
INCIDENT. - LIBERAL TO HIS PARTY. - FORREST AND 

THE POOR. - AN UNJUST DEMAND UPON HIS PURSE. 



the time Mr. Forrest achieved his great 
triumph over the prejudice which gave to 
other countries all the honor and profits derived from 
stage talent and dramatic literature, he, like some 
fabled god ; bounded over the mimic world and became 
its ruler. 

Fortune flowed in upon him in golden streams, and 
in time he became a millionaire. Many persons have 
an idea that Mr. Forrest worshipped the " almighty 
dollar." Not so. He was liberal, and nothing offended 
him more than to have his private charities the subject 
of comment. The writer of this had many opportuni 
ties of witnessing the exercise of this great virtue 
in Mr. Forrest. The word charity in modern accep 
tation implies the giving of alms to the poor. The 
New Testament, however, does not give it that 
signification altogether. Clarke, in his Commentaries, 
says : " It appears that the word charity, in the New 
Testament, does not signify (as we use it) only alms 
to the poor, but that universal love and good will to 
wards all men, which includes both it and all other 
virtues; the constant practice of which universal 

(288) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 289 

charity is indeed worshipping God in spirit and in 
truth/ [This comment is upon I. Corinthians ; 
Chap. xiii. ; v. 2.] 

In Mr. Forrest s case, no thought of his charities 
being a coverlid for a man s sins, or a mere shadow of 
religion, ever crossed his mind. With him to assist a 
fellow-creature was a duty, and in almost every case 
the act of giving was on the instant a case of distress 
was brought before him. Not long since the editor of 
a paper in this city said, among other things, speaking 
of Mr. Forrest, that he " has never been noted for any 
particular action in favor of the unfortunate members 
of the profession." This is untrue. Mr. Forrest 
has given in public and private charity upwards of 
forty thousand dollars ! It would be useless for us to 
reason with those who doubt this ; for, unless we 
placed before them the figures, they would not be 
convinced. It is not for us to open Mr. Forrest s pri 
vate memorandum book and produce the proof, as 
there are many living whose names are on the list who 
were the recipients of his bounty. Mr. Forrest s charity 
was like that of EsrefFs, in the following beautiful 
tradition : 

" Zaccher and Esreff begged Morah, their tutor, to per 
mit them to visit the curiosities of Aleppo. He gave them 
a few aspers to expend as they thought proper; and on 
their return, he inquired how they had bestowed the mon 
ey. I, said Zaccher, ( bought some of the finest dates 
Syria ever produced : the taste was exquisite. c And I, 
said Esreff, met a poor woman, with an infant at her 
breast ; her cries pierced me ; I gave her my aspers, and 
grieved that I had not more. The dates, said Morah to 
Zaccher, are gone ; but Esreff s charity will be a lasting 
blessing, and contribute to his happiness, not only in this 
life, but in that to come. " 

18 



290 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

We could write a small volume upon the subject of 
Mr. Forrest s charities speak of incidents, scenes of 
distress, cases of gratitude and ingratitude arising from 
them. Some of these are of such a nature as to render 
them apochryphal in the estimation of those who knew 
but little of Mr. Forrest s inner-life. Few would be 
lieve that he took his cloak from his back, and wrapped 
it around a half-frozen, wretched man, and had him 
taken care of. Such, however, was the fact. As we 
have said, our purpose is not to parade instances of this 
kind before our readers. They have nothing to do with 
the subject of these Reminiscences, of whose stage- 
life and public career it is alone our purpose to speak. 
Still we deem it necessary to allude to his charities, 
as his reticence and that of the recipients of his 
bounty have given rise to reports of his lack of this 
virtue and love of money; both are false and unjust 
to his memory. 

One or two instances, however, will show the man 
ner of Mr. Forrest s dispensing charity. Every winter 
more particularly what is called a hard one orders 
were left at the grocers from whom Mr. Forrest pur 
chased his supplies, to refuse no poor person wanting 
credit, and the bills were to be sent to him for settle 
ment. It was left with the grocer to discriminate who 
were to be the recipients of his bounty. This plan was 
suggested by Miss Elenora, sister of Mr. Forrest, and 
during the latter part of her life she superintended the 
carrying out of this praiseworthy system. This estima 
ble lady, the last of her kindred, died June 3rd, 1871. 
In a notice of her death, which we wrote at the time, 
and published in The Press, we made an allusion to 
this fact, in the following language : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 291 

" Kind, gentle, with a hand open to charity, she did not 
remain at home awaiting the call of the destitute and suffer 
ing; but when the storms and the tempests of winter came, 
and the poor were suffering, bearing their poverty and 
wretchedness in silence, it was her hand that came forth 
unsolicited to aid them." 

An interesting incident occurred, to which the atten 
tion of Mr. Forrest was called by a letter written by a 
member of a well-known firm in this city, at the request 
of the widow of an old actor, who, with two children, 
was in actual want. The object of the writer was to 
dispose of a picture she had, suitable, as she thought, 
to the taste of the tragedian. To this letter, bearing 
the address of the gentleman who wrote it, there came 
no reply, nor did he hear anything more of the subject 
until several weeks had passed, when he ascertained 
that the widow and her children had been taken from 
their wretched home and placed in more comfortable 
lodgings. The gentleman who superintended her re 
moval, purchased additional furniture, and gladdened 
the widow s heart, was an agent of Edwin Forrest. 
The picture still hangs in the neat little parlor of its 
owner. 

We could furnish other instances equally inter 
esting, and as characteristic of the man, but space will 
not permit. A short time before his death, he showed 
us a letter he had received from a young man, to this 
effect : In looking over the papers of his father, who 
died on his way to New Orleans, the young man (his 
son) found a memorandum stating : " Due Edwin For 
rest, Two Hundred Dollars (money borrowed)." The 
letter requested Mr. Forrest to inform him if such was 
the case. In reply he said it was, and that he held a 
due bill for that amount. The letter shown us was to 



292 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

say that if the due bill was forwarded to Mr. Forrest s 
agent, or friend, it would be paid. 

Mr. Forrest s answer, which he read us, was noble, 
generous and kind saying : " Not a cent will I receive 
from you to pay a debt of your father s and my 
friend. The due bill I hold was pressed upon me by 
your father. I knew the man knew his worth, and 
had he lived it would have been paid. I will take 
nothing from his children ; the due bill, which I had 
long since forgotten, is i cancelled. " This letter was 
sent the son s reply was equally noble, stating, that 
they were enabled to pay it, that the family were not 
straitened in circumstances, and that, for his father s 
memory, he hoped Mr. Forrest would not refuse the 
amount sent by the same mail in a draft. 

The gentleman alluded to here, whose name if 
given, would be recognized as holding a high position 
in our stage history, was a Philadelphian by birth, and 
an old, valued and much regretted friend of him who 
lives to record these facts. 

Col. John W. Forney, in his admirable book, en 
titled "Anecdotes of Public Men/ speaking of Mr. 
Forrest, says : 

" He gave liberally to the Union cause without being a 
Republican. Though he did not unite with us when we 
sung ( John Brown, none could have been more graceful 
and ready in contributing to the general pleasure." 

In a future part of these "Reminiscences " we will 
give the balance of the article from Col. Forney s book 
which the reader will find in that work, on page 77. 

The fact is, Mr. Forrest, unlike other wealthy men, 
performed acts of benevolence when and where they 
were beneficial, and not for newspaper notoriety. His 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 293 

true friends knew his good qualities the public gen 
erally knew him only as an ACTOR. 

Mr. Forrest, at one time, was highly censured for 
refusing to act for the benefit of the poor in his native 
city, during a winter of unusual severity. The com 
mittee appointed for the purpose of carrying out this 
laudable object was composed of some of the wealthiest 
men in the city, who considered they had a right to 
dispose of his services as they thought proper, and 
actually wanted him to give his night s service and its 
result for the poor. These very (rich) men would con 
tribute the price of a ticket, and asked of Mr. Forrest 
five hundred dollars. As a matter of course, he refused 
his professional services. This was considered in the 
light of a crime an actor dared to fly in the face of a 
committee who had the generosity to buy a ticket valued 
at one dollar and fifty cents all for the poor. The 
press took up the matter, and was shocked at Mr. For 
rest s want of liberality in refusing to give five hundred 
dollars, when these men many of them far wealthier 
than the actor were giving their mite in the shape of 
the price of a ticket. It was monstrous an outrage 
and not to be endured ! Mr. Forrest made this prop 
osition to the committee, that if the gentlemen who 
were so clamorous on the subject of his refusal, were to 
show him the list and the amount attached to their 
respective names, he would double the highest sum 
mentioned if five hundred, he would give a thousand ! 
This they declined, and we believe it has never been 
known how much was subscribed, nor the amount paid 
over to the poor of the city. Mr. Forrest did not for 
get the poor during that hard and severe winter. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

CORIOLANUS. ITS ORIGIN. THE ACTOR. MR. FOR- 

REST S IMPERSONATION OF THE CHARACTER. THE 

MARBLE STATUE. MR. THOMAS BALL, THE SCULP 
TOR. SPLENDID SPECIMEN OF ART. A PERSPEC 
TIVE GLANCE OF THE ACTOR S HOME. 

IN Chapter XIV. of these Eeminiscences we alluded 
to the play of Coriolamis in connection with Mr. 
Forrest. As that gentleman s impersonation of the 
character furnished the subject for a celebrated sculp 
tor to produce a marble portrait statue of the emi 
nent tragedian as Caius Marcius Coriolanus, we devote 
another portion of these Reminiscences to the Play, 
the Actor and the Sculptor. 

This fine production of art will be a prominent 
feature in the " Forrest Home/ 

THE PLAY. 

As we said before, this inimitable drama was derived 
chiefly from the memoirs of Coriolanus contained in 
the "Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes com 
pared together, by that grave learned Philosopher and 
Historiographer, Plutarch of Cheronea ; " translated by 
Thomas North, Esq., Comptroller of the Household to 
Queen Elizabeth. London, 1579. 

The scene is laid in Rome, and partly in the terri 
tories of the Volscians and Antiates, and the action 

(294) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 295 

commences with the secession to the Mons Sacer in the 
year of Rome, 262, and ends with the death of Corio- 
lanus, Y. R. 266. 

There is no entry of this play earlier than that of 
the folio of 1623 ; but from a slight resemblance be 
tween the language of the fable told by Meneius in the 
first scene, and that of the same apologue in Camden s 
Remains, published in 1605. Malone supposes the pas 
sage to have been imitated from that volume. From 
the history above mentioned Shakespeare has taken 
many of the speeches, and such alterations were made 
as were necessary to form them, into blank verse. He 
assigns the production, however, to 1609 or 1610, 
partly because most of the other plays of Shakespeare 
have been reasonably referred to other years, and there 
fore the present might be most naturally ascribed to a 
time when he had not ceased to write, and was probably 
otherwise unemployed, and partly from Yolumnia 
mentioning the mulberry the while, species of which 
were brought into England in great quantities. 

A tragedy of the same name and subject as the 
present, by James Thompson, was produced at Covent 
Garden in 1748, for the benefit of the author s family, 
by the zeal of Sir George Lyttleton ; which raised a 
considerable sum, though it added nothing to the poet s 
fame. In 1755, Thomas Sheridan brought out Co- 
riolanus ; or, the Roman Matron, at the same theatre, 
composed from both Shakespeare and Thompson, 
which had some success, being assisted by a splendid 
ovation. The best revisal, however, was that also 
taken from both authors by John P. Kemble, produced 
originally at Drury Lane, in February, 1789, and some 
times ascribed to Wrighten, the prompter. It was 



29G LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

again brought out by the same excellent performer, 
with some additions from Thompson, at Covent Gar 
den, November 3rd, 1806, in which his Coriolanus and 
the Volumnia of Mrs. Siddons, formed the proudest 
display of even their magnificent histrionic powers. It 
was in the part of the Koman General that Mr. Kem- 
ble took leave of the stage, at the above theatre, on 
Monday, June 23rd, 1817. 

THE ACTOR. 

The only American actor who had distinguished 
himself in Coriolanus was Mr. Edwin Forrest. His 
splendid figure, his surprising strength and yet pon 
derous grace, if we may be allowed the expression, of 
his fine frame, make a perfect picture of the Roman 
warrior. " He is," says a London critic, " more like 
the creation of Polidora de Carravaggio s triumphant 
victors than the sculptured Apollo of the Academy." 
Added to which, he possessed the fire of genius, which 
alone gives life and animation to the picture. 

Mr. Forrest, both by education and national pro 
clivities, was peculiarly adapted to this character. 
The argument of the play is decidedly opposed to the 
aristocracy, although the characters speak for and 
against it. Liberty and slavery the privilege of the 
few and the claims of the many are alike ably as well 
as politically handled. Mr. Forrest s sarcastic mode of 
speaking, when these subjects are introduced, was one 
of his striking features. Coriolanus, however, is not 
a republican ; he rates the people as if he were a god 
to punish, and not a man of their infirmity. 

In 1864, we wrote the following article, being one 
of several we had written upon his Coriolanus, and the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 297 

last : " It seems to us that this version of Coriolanus 
is of a more modern date than any one adapted to the 
stage that we have witnessed. Whose version is it ? 
The commendations which from time to time have been 
given to three great actors K enable, Cooke and Con- 
way speak of a play intact with the fame of Shake 
speare. There is not only a heavy discount in this 
piece of language, but a very large percentage taken 
from its original dramatic construction. 

"We have always opposed this pruning system, as 
having a tendency to lessen the stage attractions of 
any piece, though it be even one of Shakespeare s. It 
is true, Coriolanus stands out in bold relief the pro 
minent figure in the picture. Yet, the shades of light, 
so essential to give it effect, are so scattered that the 
harmony of the whole is materially marred. There is 
no blending of character to bring out the real beauties 
of the picture. 

"We have spoken of Mr. Forrest s Coriolanus as 
being great. It is so, whatever difference of opinion 
may exist upon the subject. Our praises of Mr. Forrest 
are the expression of an opinion formed years ago, and 
are strengthened by his progressive improvements in 
the art. They have no other standard. We speak of 
an artist without regard to name or country, friend or 
enemy. In the gigantic school of art, among the clus 
tered gems that grace the walls of the Academy, we 
criticise the work not the man. 

" Coriolanus is a peculiar character. He is the crea 
ture of a mother s pride, and what he does is to please 
her, and to be partly proud. But he is not partly 
proud ; he was ( thoroughly and extremely proud, even 
to the altitude of his virtue/ He is at times the slave 



298 LIFE OP EDWIN FOEEEST. 

of passion, then of subdued emotion ; at others, fu 
rious, mad, or blinded, if you please ; but in all and 
through all the method is principled. All these con 
flicting elements were handled by Mr. Forrest, as 
Franklin handled and subdued the lightning, bring 
ing it submissive to his will. Again, the pride of Co- 
riolanus is that of a noble ; it is tinctured with the 
prejudices of his education, and assumes at times 
more the shape of insult to those around him than 
a distant reserve to preserve his dignity. Coriolanus 
has lain, as it were, for many years silent, cold, 
classic, it has slept in its lettered tomb, or, like an 
encrusted diamond, in its gemmed mine. Mr. For 
rest has raised it from its coffined home, and while 
gazing upon its motionless form, as it lays in its mo 
tionless classic beauty before him, he studied its his 
tory, scientifically anatomized it, and, as he read the 
burning pages describing the man of his time, he 
breathed upon it the genius of the actor, and gave life 
to its poetic creation. It came forth the Coriolanus of 
Shakespeare, full of life and action. 

"It was the diamond of the mind, fashioned into 
beauty by the artiste. We have spoken of Mr. For 
rest s Coriolanus as a masterly whole it would be 
lost labor to particularize its parts. Its colossal grand 
eur cannot be improved by additions, nor its beauty 
lessened by the shafts of envious criticism. 

" Mr. Forrest s Coriolanus was a most masterly per 
formance ; the Roman manliness of his face and figure, 
the haughty dignity of his carriage, and the fire of his 
eye, conspired to render his impersonation of the char 
acter one of the most striking performances that was 
ever exhibited upon the stage. 



LIFE OF EDWIlST FORREST. 299 

" The mode in which Mr. Forrest pronounced the 
word Coriolanus has from his authority become gener 
ally prevalent. Mr. Forrest could at all times be taken 
as the standard of correct pronunciation, either of 
names or words. He threw the accent on the second 
syllable of this derivative word Coriolanus, because 
the accent rests upon the second syllable in the primi 
tive word, Corioli. As uttered by some actors, slurring 
the first syllable, it is drawled out Cow-ri-o-lanus, but 
should be pronounced short and quick as accented 
above. 

" It is a question, however, if by throwing the accent 
on the second syllable it would not tend to lengthen 
the word, as far as sound goes ; for the breath in the 
pronunciation of any long word cannot be conveniently 
suspended till the last syllable, which is long in this in 
stance, as the other is short. Hamblin, we think it 
was, who, like Kemble, was troubled with asthma, in 
variably adopted this course for breath-sake. And pro 
nounced it thus Corio-lanus. We leave it to the 
more learned to decide the question." 

THE STATUE. 

THOMAS BALL S MARBLE PORTRAIT STATUE OF 
EDWIN FORREST AS CAIUS MARCIUS CORIOLANUS. 
This work, the result of personal friendship, owes 
its existence to the persistent efforts of a few of Mr. 
Forrest s intimate friends, who, so long ago as the year 
1862, applied unsuccessfully to Mr. Forrest for his per 
mission and the sittings necessary for its execution. 

In January, 1863, Mr. Forrest having consented to 
give to Mr. Thomas Ball the desired facilities, the 
model was made in Philadelphia, and in 1865 Mr. Ball 



300 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

went to Italy to complete the statue in marble. The 
following extract is from a letter written at Florence 
after the completion of the large model : 

" While Ball has succeeded in giving a most striking 
personal likeness of the great actor, he has imparted to the 
statue the inspiration of the Roman Consul. There is a 
grandeur about the work that will add new lustre to the 
genius of Ball, while at the same time it will closely iden 
tify Forrest s name and fame with the best works of art." 

After the statue was finished, the artist is reported 
to have said : 

" If my countrymen will not accept this as a true rep 
resentation, in marble, of our great national tragedian, it is 
not in my power to gratify their wishes." 

We think the artist has done himself justice in his 
modelling and finish. The attitude is strong and well 
balanced. . The drapery is gracefully managed in its 
falls and folds ; and the other details of the dress show 
accurate chiselling. The head also is vigorously shaped 
and cut. The height of the figure is six feet six 
inches, which is some eight inches taller than Mr. For 
rest. The extreme height of the figure and pedestal 
is eleven feet, and the weight is over three tons. 

The statue represents Coriolanus in act v. scene iii. 
The tent of Coriolanus. Enter in mourning habits, 
Virgilla. Volumnia, leading young Maricus Valeria, 
and attendants. 

" My wife comes foremost ; then the honor d mould 
Wherein this trunk was framed, and in her hand 
The grandchild to her blood. But, out, affection ! 
All bond and privilege of nature break ! 
Let it be virtuous to be obstinate. 
What is that curt sy worth, or those dove eyes, 
Which can make gods forsworn ? I melt, and am not 
Of stronger earth than others. My mother bows ; 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 301 

As if Olympus to a mole-hill should 

In supplication nod ; and my young boy 

Hath an aspect of intercession, which 

Great Nature cries : Decry not ; let the voices 

Plough Eome and harrow Italy ; I ll never 

Be such a gosling to obey instinct ; but stand 

As if a man were author of himself, 

And knew no other kin." 

In imagination we see the veterans of the stage, 
now the recipients of the munificent bounty of the 
founder of the " Forrest Home," standing in one of the 
vast rooms of the palatial mansion, gazing upon his 
"marble portrait statue ; " and as they gather round it, 
relating many a tale of the past, wherein each and 
every one bore a part. Passing from this room into 
the library, there we see them poring over the books 
of the drama, and in almost every one the name of Ed 
win Forrest bears witness to that gentleman s love for 
the drama, and a proper appreciation of its literature. 
Passing from the library into the picture gallery, we 
find them gazing in silent wonder; there they see a 
vast collection of works of art paintings, sculptured 
figures, souvenirs of admiring friends embracing every 
walk and vocation of life. Passing from this, we im 
agine them rehearsing in the neat classic theatre. But 
why imagine all this ? It is to be a reality, and not a 
vision not an actor s dream of home, to be dispelled 
by the morning s dawn, but a realized Utopia a place 
where the aged actor can lie down " in green pastures," 
and wander " beside the still waters " one sweet spot, 
where the tired mind may rest and call it HOME. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

EDWIN FORREST S POLITICS. DEMOCRATIC. FOURTH 
OF JULY SPEECH. A PAGE FROM JOHN W. FORNEY S 

BOOK. FORREST A HUMORIST. HE IS ONLY AN 

ACTOR. HENRY CLAY. ANECDOTE. 

~\ /TR. FORREST was the most consistent politician 
-L*J- that we ever met. He was a Democrat of that 
good old school from which came forth the champions 
of right in the great battle of sustaining our govern 
ment against a foreign foe ; he was also the warm friend 
of that great man whose sword flashed over the battle 
field in 1815, and drove the minions of monarchy from 
our shores ; that man, the model warrior and statesman 
was GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON. In politics he was 
Mr. Forrest s tutor. 

Mr. Forrest had been, during the course of his pub 
lic career, on several occasions, invited to stand as a 
candidate for Congress, but all such proposals he had 
declined, his expressed wish being that he should be 
known in no public capacity that was not strictly pro 
fessional. In 1838, in compliance with a request made 
by the Democratic Republican Committee of New York, 
he delivered a Fourth of July oration, remarkable for 
the purity and force of its diction, and the originality 
and patriotism of its sentiments. One paragraph from 
this oration defines the speaker s political views so well, 

(302) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 303 

and expresses so much of his character, that we reprint 
it. " To Jefferson belongs exclusively and forever the 
high renown of having framed the glorious charter of 
American liberty. To his memory the benedictions of 
this and all succeeding times are due for reducing the 
theory of freedom to its simplest elements, and in a few 
lucid and unanswerable propositions establishing a 
groundwork on which men may securely raise a lasting 
superstructure of national greatness and prosperity. 
But our fathers, in the august assemblage of 76, were 
prompt to acknowledge and adopt the solemn and mo 
mentous principles he asserted. With scarce an alter 
ation with none that affected the spirit and character 
of the instrument, and with but few that changed in the 
slightest degree its verbal construction they published 
that exposition of human rights to the world as their 
Declaration of American Independence, pledging to each 
other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor 
in support of the tenets it proclaimed. This was the 
grandest, the most important experiment ever under 
taken in the history of man. But they that entered 
upon it were not afraid of new experiments, if founded 
on the immutable principles of right, and approved by 
the sober conviction of reason. There were not want 
ing then indeed, there are not wanting now pale coun 
sellors to fear, who would have withheld them from the 
course they were pursuing, because it tended in a direc 
tion hitherto untried. But they were not to be deterred 
by the shadowy doubts and timid suggestions of craven 
spirits, content to be lashed forever round the same 
circle of miserable expedients, perpetually trying anew 
the exploded shifts which had always proved lament 
ably inadequate before. To such men the very name 



304 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

of experiment is a sound of horror. It is a spell which 
conjures up gorgons, hydras, and chimeras dire. They 
seem to know that all that is valuable in life that the 
acquisitions of learning, the discoveries of science, and 
the refinement of art are the result of experiment. It 
was experiment that bestowed on Cadmus those keys of 
knowledge with which we unlock the treasure houses 
of immortal mind. It was experiment that taught 
Bacon the futility of the Grecian philosophy, and led 
him to that heaven-scaling method of investigation and 
analysis on which science has safely climbed to the 
proud eminence where she now sits dispensing her 
blessings on mankind. It was experiment that lifted 
Newton above the clouds and darkness of this visible 
diurnal sphere, enabling him to explore the sublime 
mechanism of the stars, and weigh the planets in their 
eternal rounds. It was experiment that nerved the 
hand of Franklin to snatch the thunder from the 
armory of heaven. It was experiment that gave this 
hemisphere to the world. It was experiment that gave 
this continent freedom. 

&##### o # 

"Where does the sun, in all his compass, shed his 
beams on a country freer, better, happier than this ? 
Where does he behold more diffuse prosperity more 
active industry more social harmony more abiding 
faith, hope and charity? Where are the foundations 
of private right more stable, or the limits of public 
order more inviolately observed ? Where does labor 
go to the toil with a step more alert, or a more erect 
brow, effulgent with the heart-reflected light of con 
scious independence? 

"Where does Agriculture drive his team a-field 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 3Q5 

with a more cheery spirit in the certain assurance that 
the harvest is his own ? Where does commerce launch 
more boldly her bark upon the deep, aware that she 
has to strive but with the tyranny of man ? 

" But above all, let us be careful by no political in 
terference with the pursuits of industry and improve 
ment, to violate that grand maxim of equality, on 
which, as on a corner stone, the fabric of democratic 
freedom rests. That we should frown indignantly 
on the first motion of an attempt to sunder one portion 
of the Union from another, was the parting admoni 
tion of Washington ; but with deeper solicitude, and 
more sedulous and constant care, should we guard 
against a blow being aimed, no matter how light, or 
by what specious pretext defended, against that great 
elementary principle of liberty, which, once shaken, 
the whole structure will topple to the ground." 

Mr. Forrest s address bears all those strong evi 
dences of mental culture which so distinguished his 
speeches in after years. There is a Shakesperian style 
about them which at once would tell a stranger this 
man is a student of the immortal bard s vast con 
ceptions. His works were the text of the orator this 
man must be an actor. A writer, speaking of one 
of Mr. Forrest s speeches, made on the occasion of a 
complimentary dinner tendered him, said : " Although 
protesting he was no actor here (at the festive board), 
yet he never acted so well in his life as during this 
reply to the compliments profusely showered upon 
him." 

The writer of this knew not the difference between 
Nature and Art what was natural here, he attributed 
to the latter. 
19 



306 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" This man must be an actor/ 7 was applied to Mr. 
Forrest simply because he spoke well and was an 
orator, and yet why is not an actor eligible to the highest 
offices in the gift of a free people ? Is the profession 
of such a character as this to debar a man of culture, 
intelligence, honor and probity, as capable as a petty 
lawyer, or a corrupt precinct politician ? So far from 
any absurd stigma being attached to the profession, 
when ^Eschyles wrote his Sophocles and Euripides wrote 
for the stage, no one could become a member of a com 
pany who had been dishonored by any offence com 
mitted against the laws. Enjoying all the privileges 
of a free citizen, an actor might aspire to the most 
honorable employment of the State. Some actors pos 
sessed great influence in the public assemblies. A 
celebrated performer, named Aristodemus, was sent on 
an embassy to Philip, King of Macedon; and ./Eschyles, 
Sophocles and Aristophanes, like Shakespeare, held it 
no degradation to act a part in the pieces they had 
composed. It is well known to the learned at what 
expense the Athenians supported their theatres, and 
how often from among their poets and actors they 
chose governors of their provinces, generals of their 
armies, and guardians of their liberties. 

We have said that Mr. Forrest was the most con 
sistent politician that we ever met with ; perhaps we 
should have said the most consistent in politics. The 
last time Mr. Forrest voted, was at the October election, 
1872, and for the first time in his life scratched his 
ticket ! This was for the purpose of casting his vote 
for Gen. H. H. Bingham for Clerk of the Court of 
Quarter Sessions. "I vote for him," said he, "be 
cause I like the man from the opinion you have ex- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 3Q7 

pressed of him, and as your friend, for every friend of 
yours I consider mine/ This we considered one of 
the highest compliments Mr. Forrest ever paid us. 

Gen. Bingham and Mr. Forrest were to have met, 
but the excitement of the election, and the former just 
entering upon the duties of his new office, delayed the 
interview ; in the meantime death entered the mansion 
of the great tragedian, and shut out visitors forever. 

There was another gentleman whose character Mr. 
Forrest much admired, and with whom he was not 
personally acquainted ; this was M. Hall Stanton, Esq. 
" When I return from Boston," said he one day to 
us, "I want you to make an arrangement with Mr. 
Stanton to dine with me. He is a man whose ac 
quaintance I very much desire/ The very week the 
noble actor died was the one selected for this inter 
view. Had they met, the fortunes of the ivriter of these 
"Reminiscences" would have been materially changed. 

Well has it been said by an old writer : " Which 
of us setting out upon a visit, a diversion or an affair 
of business, apprehends a possibility of not arriving at 
the place of destination, yet at the same time does riot 
apprehend himself at liberty to alter his course in any 
part of his progress ? There is a certain destiny of 
everything." 

Colonel John W. Forney relates the following inci 
dent in his "Anecdotes of Public Men." Perhaps I 
cannot better terminate this desultory anecdote than by 
giving you the following copy of an autograph letter 
now before me, written by Edwin Forrest, in 1856, 
when he sent a subscription of two hundred and fifty 
dollars to the Treasurer of the Democratic Committee 
of Pennsylvania, to help defraying the expenses of 



308 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

electing James Buchanan. It is very carefully com 
posed, and indicates the business exactitude which 
marked him throughout life : 

"BOSTON, November 29th, 1856. 

"MY DEAR SIR: You must excuse me for not reply 
ing sooner to your letter of the 21st. instant, but unusual 
press of business, and other matters, prevented me from 
doing so at an earlier period. 

" I herein enclose you a check for two hundred and fifty 
dollars, which you will apply to the liquidation of the debt 
incurred by the Democratic Committee during the late 
political canvass. 

" Truly yours, "Eowi^ FORREST." 

Shortly after the death of Mr. Forrest, Colonel 
John W. Forney published a few anecdotes and remi 
niscences of his friend. In one article he said : 

" He has generally voted the Democratic ticket in his 
ward, and contributed largely to Mr. Buchanan s election 
in 1856. An autograph letter, containing a subscription of 
$250 to that campaign, is now in the possession of Ferdi 
nand J. Dreer, enrolled among his treasures, and also ac 
companied by a comical verse, which is pinned upon the 
letter, evidently cut by him from some country newspaper. 
But no one can doubt where he has always stood who will 
read his will, especially that part of it in which he com 
mands the reading of the unexpurgated edition of the Dec 
laration of Independence on every Fourth of July. Twenty 
years ago Mr. Forrest summoned his neighbors, when he 
lived at Font Hill, N. Y., on the Hudson, and gave them 
a handsome collation, after which he read this very Declara 
tion, himself, from a platform which he had erected. The 
company was most distinguished, and the event will still be 
recalled by the survivors. Still another additional proof 
of his patriotism may be stated. On the 24th of July, 
1862, at the great war meeting, the largest meeting ever 
held in Independence Square, Mr. Forrest sent a check 
for one thousand dollars, which the editor of this paper had 
the honor of presenting." 

We annex the " comical verse/ Mr. Forrest had a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 3Q9 

natural penchant for every thing humorous, and his 
clippings from newspapers, and extracts from periodi 
cals of this character, would make a volume far more 
interesting than that of Joe Miller s. Mr. Forrest, 
himself a humorist, appreciated it in others : 

" When Fremont raised a flag so high 

.On Rocky Mountain s peak, 
One little busy bee did fly 

And light upon his cheek ; 
But when November s ides arrive 

To greet the Colonel s sight, 
Straight from the Democratic hive 

Two B s will on him light." 

" He was but an actor ! " How often this sentence 
has been uttered as a slur ; as if an actor was incapable 
of being anything else. Actors were honored in Rome. 
The great Brutus thought his time not mis-employed 
in a journey from Rome to Naples, only to see an excel 
lent troupe of comedians ; and was so pleased with 
their performance, that he sent them to Rome, with 
letters of introduction to Cicero, to take them under 
his patronage ; this, too, was at a time when the city 
was under no small confusion from the murder of Csesar. 
Yet amidst the tumults of those times, and the hurry 
of his own affairs, he thought having a good com 
pany of actors of too much consequence to the public 
to be neglected. And in such estimation was Roscius 
held by the public men of the day, that in public 
debates his name was mentioned in the most honorable 
manner. 

If the great actors of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries, whose names now adorn the dramatic pages 
of stage literature, had turned their attention to other 
pursuits, they might have reached the highest honors 



310 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

bestowed on men of genius and enterprise. Talma, 
G-arrick, Kemble, Cooke, Cooper, Kean, Macready, 
Forrest, and others, would not have had the sarcastic 
phrase applied to them, "He is only an actor!" had 
they entered the list to contend with the political ele 
ment, and battle for high reward, they would have 
gained it. This they did not .do, hence they lived and 
died only actors ! 

John W. Forney, in his "Anecdotes of Public Men/ 
relates the following incident, which goes to show that 
our own great men understood the profession of an ac 
tor. In the year 1844, when Henry Clay visited Phil 
adelphia, Mr. Forney, John Swift, arid Edwin Forrest 
called upon him at the American House, on Chestnut 
Street ; we will let Mr. Forney speak : 

" He looked feeble and worn he was then over seventy 
years old but he soon brightened. Anxious to rouse him, 
I quietly ventured to suggest that I heard the speech of 
Pierre Soule, Senator in Congress from Louisiana an ex 
tremist especially distasteful to Mr. Clay and I thought 
it a very thorough and able presentation of the side adverse 
to the compromise measures. I saw the old man s eye 
flash as I spoke ; and was not surprised when, with much 
vehemence, he proceeded to denounce Soule. After deny 
ing that he was a Statesman, and insisting that there were 
others far more effective in the opposition, he wound up by 
saying : He is nothing but an actor, sir ; a mere actor. 
Then suddenly recollecting the presence of our favorite 
tragedian, he dropped his tone, and waved his hand, as he 
turned to Forrest I mean, my dear sir, a mere French 
actor. We soon after took our leave ; and, as we descended 
the stairs, Forrest turned to Swift and myself, and said, 
Mr. Clay has proved, by his skill with which he can change 
his manner, and the grace with which he can make an 
apology, that he is a better actor than Soule. " 

How true it is said by the immortal bard : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 3H 



" All the world s a stage, 
And all men and women merely players ; 
They have their exits and their entrances ; 
And one man in his time plays many parts." 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

STATE OF THE DRAMA. - AMERICAN ACTORS. - A RE 
VIEW OF THE CAUSE OF THE ASTOR PLACE RIOTS. - 

MACREADY S FitfST AND SECOND MOVE. THE AP 
PROACHING STORM. LAWYER S ADVICE. 



state of the drama in the year 1849 was much 
-*- better than it had been for many years previous. 
This, in a great measure, was owing to the re-appear 
ance of Mr. Forrest and Mr. Macready, and the charac 
ter of the pieces in which they appeared. The public 
taste for what was then, and now, called sensational 
pieces, was gradually dying out ; and the production 
of legitimate plays gave goodly evidence of a better 
state of things in the " Mimic World." The word le 
gitimate we have often thought very appropriate to 
stage plays. It would be very difficult, however, for 
us to fix upon any one period in dramatic history, 
which would apply the word to the stage, simply be 
cause, what we term legitimate, is in direct opposition 
to a modern style of drama now in vogue ; dramas so 
called, and which are a disgrace to our stage and its 
literature. As we are unable to fix upon any particu 
lar period in stage history, from which we can date 
what is called the legitimate, we must necessarily select 



312 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

out those eras in which good plays were performed ; 
and probably no other than that of the Elizabethan 
age can be named. Indeed, you cannot go back be 
yond this period to find in a class of plays anything to 
carry out the word legitimate, which literally means, 
an appreciation of all that is beautiful in art, legal and 
lawful, in construction and in direct contradistinction to 
whatever is spurious, low or immoral. Shakespeare s 
plays come directly under the head of legitimate, not 
in the sense in which the word is used now ; but from 
the fact that there were no plays at that period other 
than that class. In ancient Greece, it is true, they 
had what is called the " Classic Drama." The ele 
ments of the Grecian drama are to be sought in an age 
antecedent to all historic record. Mythical legends 
and episodic narrations of the virtues and achievements 
of those gods with which that age teemed, and filled 
every stream with Naiads, woods with Dryads, and the 
mountains with the Oreads and the Graces, were the 
first principles of representing life by action. Wild 
and poetical as these productions were, they certainly 
possessed better elements of dramatic morale than that 
of the Songs of Bacchus, amid the drunken revels of 
the wine growers, and from which sprang the first 
germs of tragedy. 

It was long subsequent to the age of Shakespeare 
that the word legitimate was used to distinguish good 
plays from the bad; or rather we should say, from the 
low and vulgar class of dramatic productions. In our 
day the legitimate drama means the good old stand 
ard plays of the English school, as well as those of our 
own; and in this age of sensational trash, unrefined, 
low, vulgar, and immoral, the word legitimate is a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 313 

distinguishing mark, that should be recognized and 
respected. 

In speaking of the drama, with reference to its mor 
al influences, we lay down the principle that the spirit 
of the legitimate drama is favorable to human improve 
ment, and the stage under its auspices, could be made 

" The mirror of a nation s virtue, 
And the enlightened and polished school of a free people." 

We have no disposition to conceal the fact that it 
has sometimes been abused for unworthy purposes ; 
still less are we disposed to extenuate those abuses ; 
though its history discloses the remarkable truth, that 
where it has conducted, and not followed the spirit of 
the age, it has uniformly been a school of virtue and 
refinement. It did not stamp the licentious character 
of Charles the Second s reign ; it rather received and 
gave again the very body and pressure of the times. 
The drama should be regarded as a great instrument 
for the accomplishment of great ends. The nature of 
those ends will depend upon the character of those who 
employ the instrument. That it has at times been 
converted to an improper use, will not be denied. But 
is the candid mind prepared, from partial and tempo 
rary effects, to infer that the cause should be denounced 
and rejected forever? It is not upon reasoning like 
this that the convictions of mankind are usually based. 
Philosophy has been contaminated, and her fruits have 
been evil. Eloquence has been made to serve the 
cause of the demagogue, and has stood in ranks op 
posed to patriotism. Even the simplicity and purity 
of our holy religion have been made subservient to the 
ambition of unprincipled men. But where is he who 



314 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

will cast a shade upon the integrity of philosophy her 
self ? Who will unhesitatingly pronounce eloquence a 
curse ? And is the spirit of true religion less beauti 
ful and less divine, because its principles have some 
times been perverted or misapprehended ? The legiti 
mate purpose of the drama is to improve, not to cor 
rupt our virtuous sensibilities ; but like every other hu 
man institution, it is imperfect. Its object has been 
sometimes misapprehended, and abuses have been the 
consequence. Yet "more in sorrow than in anger " do 
we deprecate that disingenuous spirit, which pronounces 
upon the uncorrupted drama those judgments which 
should be passed only upon its abuses. Let these be 
arraigned and condemned; justice, and that charity 
" which rejoiceth in the truth/ command that rebuke 
extend no further. 

" Thus many plays," says a learned divine, " instead 
of ennobling the soul with generous sentiments, sully 
the imagination by describing lust with all its incen 
tives and allurements, and awakens those passions 
which lay dormant before." It is granted that good 
writers make the deeper impression, when they make 
court to the fancy, by bribing it with agreeable meta 
phors, paintings, and lively imagery. The same writer, 
in a sermon preached on " The Government of Thought," 
speaking of plays, says : " Some of them are rational 
and manly entertainments, and may be read with im 
provement as well as delight. As to the rest, I would 
offer to the consideration of virtuous persons, whether 
it be consistent with their character, as such, to read in 
the closet, or hear on the stage, such lewd and im 
modest sentiments as it would not be consistent to 
hear in private conversation ? " "Seed s Sermons," IX. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKBEST. 315 

This character of plays has kept back many talent 
ed artists and writers, and thus materially injured the 
legitimate, by leaving the stage to mediocre actors and 
authors. The stage was never intended to be made 
the arena for the display of licentiousness, indecency 
and vulgarity ; its object was to ennoble the mind by 
bringing forth the mental stores of gifted men, and 
place before an audience gems of bright thoughts, 
clothed with poetic beauty, instead of those vile abor 
tions emanating from diseased imaginations. Plato, 
whose words of wisdom are as apples of gold, says, 
" that if men could behold virtue, she could make all 
of them in love with her charms," and adds, " a right 
play draws her picture in the most lively manner." 

The minds of our youth have become corrupted; 
the Canaille s of the French stage have filled our streets 
with wantons ; the Jack Sheppard s of the English 
school furnished its victims for the House of Refuge 
and the Penitentiary. 

To Thomas Althorpe Cooper, William B. Wood, 
William A. Conway, William Warren, Joseph Jeffer 
son, J. W. Wallack, Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin For 
rest, and his imitators, is the American stage in 
debted for all the good we have derived from exhibi 
tions, and the effect they had upon the moral and in 
telligent. In no instance did they ever step from the 
sublime productions of gifted minds to the ridiculous 
sensational trash of the day. 

We now approach one of the most important events 
that ever occurred in the history of our stage. It finds 
no parallel in that of any other. We head this sad 
portion of our Reminiscences : 



316 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

AN IMPARTIAL REVIEW 

OF THE 

LAMENTABLE OCCURRENCES 

AT THE 

ASTOR PLACE OPERA HOUSE, 
On tlie 10t?i of May, 1849. 

In another part of these Reminiscences we gave the 
cause of the original quarrel between Mr. Forrest and 
Mr. Macready. We have shown conclusively that it 
originated in feelings of professional jealousy on the 
part of the latter, who insidiously strove to have the 
former driven from the British stage. It is also said 
that this natural jealousy was still further aggravated by 
Mr. Forrest s domestic relations. As an Englishwoman, 
his wife was still mindful of her having been born on 
the same soil with Mr. Macready, and it is a proverbial 
fact that no nation upon earth clings so obstinately to 
their native prejudices as the English. A writer says : 
"If we may believe rumor, Mrs. Forrest on many 
occasions allowed her prejudices to interfere with the 
most serious duty of a wife to sympathize with and 
uphold her husband/ 

It will be remembered that on Mr. Forrest s former 
visit to England, he was not only well received, but 
the press, with but one or two exceptions, was en 
thusiastic in his praise. All this to Macready was gall 
and wormwood; and in consultation with his friends 
and more particularly John Forster a plan was 
adopted to crush his successful rival with what suc 
cess we have already detailed. Mr. Forrest, on English 
ground, resented the insults oifered him, and openly 
accused Macready of being the instigator of them. 
The hissing of Macready at Edinburg, although not 
endorsed by us at the time, was the climax to the 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 317 

emeute between these two popular tragedians. The 
quarrel between them had now assumed something of 
a national character, and when Macready s visit to this 
country was announced, there was a low murmuring 
sound heard throughout the land of an approaching 
storm ; and had the great English tragedian kept his 
tongue still about their quarrel in England when he 
was called before the curtain, we question if the storm 
would have burst and caused so serious a calamity as 
that of the Astor Place Opera House Kiot, on the 10th 
of May, 1849. 

Mr. Macready, after an absence of three years, re 
appeared at the Astor Place Opera House, then under 
the management of Chippendale & Sefton ; Lessee, 
William Niblo. The play was announced Mr. Ma 
cready s first appearance, on Monday, September 4th, 
1848, as Macbeth, supported by Mr. Kyder, as Mac- 
duff, and Mrs. G. Jones as Lady Macbeth. This en 
gagement closed on the 25th, when he appeared in the 
Merchant of Venice. This engagement, unmolested, 
was a brilliant one. 

The Park Theatre was under the management of 
Mr. Simpson, being the last season of that highly es 
teemed gentleman and actor. It opened on the 4th of 
August, 1847. On the 31st of August, Mr. Forrest 
commenced an engagement as King Lear, but his 
triumphant career was interrupted by an attack of 
hoarseness, so severe, that it compelled him to with 
draw for several nights. 

He did not perform again until October 27th, when 
he opened in Metamora, and on the 28th as Spartacus, 
being his last appearance on the Park boards. 

Mr. Macready, after playing an engagement at Bal 
timore, Philadelphia. JBostor nnd other citio nnrl VP_ 



318 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEBEST. 

ceiving a public dinner in New Orleans, arrived in New 
York on Friday, April 27th, 1849, and almost imme 
diately made an engagement with the lessees of the 
Astor Place Opera House (Messrs. William Niblo and 
James H. Hackett), for four weeks, commencing on 
Monday, May 7th. This was announced some days 
previous, in the following card, in the city papers : 

" Astor Place Opera House, Monday, May 7th, 1849. 
First night of Mr. Macready s farewell engagement will be 
presented Shakespeare s Tragedy of Macbeth. Macbeth, 
Mr. Macready." 

In the meantime Mr. Forrest had been playing 
a splendid engagement at the Broadway Theatre, 
opening there on the 28th of August, 1848, as Othello. 
During this engagement, which lasted until the 22nd 
of September, he appeared in Virginius, Richelieu, 
and Damon. On the 23rd of April, 1849, he com 
menced a three weeks engagement. The houses were 
crowded, and his reception, on every occasion, was an 
ovation to his genius, and a tribute to his merit as 
an actor and an American gentleman. This engage 
ment, beginning with that of Macready s, naturally ex 
cited the public mind. Discussion and dispute ran 
high between the friends of the two rival tragedians. 
Not only the journals which usually devote a large por 
tion of their columns to the drama, but even the com 
mercial papers, took up the theme, and tended to fan 
the flame of discord to a burning point. There was 
one element far more dangerous to the English actor 
than that of the one controlled by the press ; it was an 
element as mysterious in its origin, as it proved to be 
fearful when aroused. It was a human motive-power 
propelled into action by surrounding circumstances, 
composed in part of American prejudices and national 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 319 

associations connected with certain events which are 
patriotically recorded under four ominous figures, viz., 
" 1776." Not to leave our readers in the dark, or 
continue the mystery, this element was the Boys of 
New York, known then and up to the present by a 
phrase more suitable to the element producing them 
" The B hoys." A writer, speaking of them, says : 
"To those abroad it may be necessary to state that the 
term does not by any means imply extreme youth. On 
the contrary, the class to which it is applied, consists, 
for the most part, of those who have already attained 
the years of manhood." 

MR. MACREADY S FIRST MOVE. 

On the 4th of October, 1848, at the conclusion of 
the performance, being called before the curtain, he de 
livered the following speech : 

" LADIES AND GENTLEMEN : It is not my custom on 
such occasions as the present to address an audience, bat I 
am moved to do so by an impulse which I cannot resist, tind 
which is strengthened by the judgment just pronounced 
by a gentleman in the gallery (referring to somebody v/ho 
hud hissed) on the performance of the evening. I /eel 
much gratified by the kind reception with which you have 
honored me, and I value it, as well on its own account as 
because on my arrival in your country, which, believe me, 
I always visit with pleasure. Some journals in New 
York asserted that I am superannuated, and am incapable 
of presenting the impersonation of Shakesperian character. 
Ladies and gentlemen, I appeal to your judgment." 

MR. MACREADY S SECOND MOVE. 

On the night of the 25th of October, 1848, in an 
swer to the call of the audience, he delivered a speech of 
some length, from which we make the following extract : 



320 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKBEST. 

" But I have a motive for trespassing further on your 
patience. There is something apart from this, for which 
I would thank you. It cannot be disproved, however the 
failure of the plan may be quoted in denial of4ts existence, 
that a project was on foot to excite on this, my farewell 
visit to the American stage, a hostile feeling against me 
with the American public. Your most kind and flattering 
reception of me has baffled the intentions of my unpro 
voked antagonists," etc. 

The imagination of Mr. Macready, excited by the 
recollection of the wrong he did Mr. Forrest in Eng 
land, conjured up this hostile faction. The reader 
will remember that both of these speeches were deliv 
ered during his first engagement (during the perform 
ance of which he met no opposition or interference 
worthy of notice), and nearly one month before he ap 
peared in Philadelphia. The last speech, so uncalled 
for, and of such singular character, induced the pub 
lication of the article in the Boston Mail, on the 30th 
of October, 1848, which Mr. Macready s counsel con 
sidered sufficient grounds for a libel. This article was 
headed: "More about McReady His Abuse of Mr. 
Forrest in Europe Endeavors to put him down in 
Paris, London and Edinburg His intrigue with Bul- 
wer to prevent Forrest Playing in Bulwer s Plays His 
Abuse of Americans," etc., etc. 

In Chapter XVIII. of these Reminiscences, we gave 
an account of Mr. Forrest s reception in England, and 
the part Mr. Macready took in prQvokirig the quarrel. 
As our account differs very little from that of the Mail, 
we need not repeat it here. One passage, however, we 
give, as it shows, in connection with the whole article, 
how Macready provoked an emeute, which his friends 
so persistently denied : " Although Macready saw fit 
on his opening night in New York, on being called out 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 321 

by some friends, to slur a c certain penny paper that 
had dared to express an opinion regarding his talents 
and conduct, we shall not, hy any means, give him 
the retort churlish; we only pity his ignorance of the 
institutions of this country, and hope, for his own 
credit s sake, that he will not, when he gets home, 
write a hlack book about American manners, etc., d la 
Trollope, and others," etc. 

Immediately after the publication of the article in 
the Boston Mail y Macready committed to his counsel, 
Messrs. Reed and Meredith, of Philadelphia, authority 
to commence such legal proceedings as they might 
deem advisable ; and preparatory thereto, he obtained 
from England certain documentary evidence relative to 
the quarrel between him and Mr. Forrest in England. 
All this was a mere trick of the actor and his counsel ; 
no suit was ever begun, nor did the required proofs 
arrive from England. True, one or two letters came 
one from a man signing himself A. Fonblanque, an 
other from a John Mitchell, and one intended to ter 
rify Mr. Forrest and his friends from the High Sheriff 
of Edinburg. As the Persians say, it was all BOSH ! 

These letters were all directed to W. C. Macready, 
Esq., Philadelphia, and were never used in court, but 
were published as evidence of Mr. Macready s child 
like innocence. If these letters told anything as we 
read them, they told how far Mr. Macready s English 
friends could falsify truth and pervert facts. Reed 
and Meredith knew this, for no more was heard of the 
suit at court. They no doubt thought with Virgil, 
who said on a somewhat similar occasion : 

" Non nostrum inter vos tantas componere lites." 
20 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

MACREADY S THIRD MOVE. FORREST S CARD. MA 
CREADY S REPLY. WILLIAM B. REED S LETTER. 

DIGNIFIED SILENCE. THE B^HOYS. MAY ?TH, 1849. 

ASTOR PLACE. FIRST SYMPTOMS OF A RIOT. 

JOHN BULL DEFYING BROTHER JONATHAN. 

the 20th of November, 1848, Mr. Macready ap- 
peared at the Arch Street Theatre, Philadelphia. 
It was then, and for the first time, that an unsuccessful 
attempt was made to drive him from the stage. Upon 
his being called before the curtain he addressed the 
audience as follows : 

" He had understood, at New York and Boston, that 
he was to be met by an organized opposition, but he had 
abiding confidence in the justice of the American people." 
[Here the noise and confusion completely drowned his 
voice, and three cheers were attempted for Forrest, and 
three hearty ones were given for Macready.] He resumed 
by saying, " It was the custom in his country never to con 
demn a man unheard." [Cheers and calls, a voice crying 
out, " Did you allow Forrest to be heard in England ? "] 
He said, " I never entertained hostile feelings towards any 
actor in this country, and have never evinced a feeling of 
opposition to him. The actor alluded to had done that 
towards him, what he was sure no English actor would do 
he had openly hissed him." [Great noise and confusion, 
hisses and hurrahs.] " That up to the time of this act he 
had never entertained towards that actor a feeling of un- 
kindness, nor had he ever shown any since." [Collision in 
boxes and great uproar throughout the house.] He said, 

(322) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 323 

" That lie fully appreciated the character and feelings of 
the audience, and, as to his engagement, if it was their will, 
he was willing to give it up at once; [no, no, cheers and 
hisses;] but that he should retain in his memory the live 
liest recollection of the warm and generous sentiments of 
regard shown him, and should speak of the American peo 
ple, whom he had known and studied for the past twenty 
years, with the same kind feelings that he ever had done." 

This, the third speech delivered by Mr. Macready, 
before Mr. Forrest had uttered a syllable, called forth 
from the latter gentleman this scathing card. The 
editor of the Pennsylvanian, of Nov. 22nd, 1848, intro 
duced it thus: "We received the following card last 
evening. It is a reply to the speech of Mr. Macready, 
at the Arch Street Theatre, on Monday evening : " 

A CARD FROM EDWIN FORREST. 

" Mr. Macready, in his speech, last night, to the au 
dience assembled at the Arch Street Theatre, made allu 
sion, I understand, to an American actor who had the 
temerity, on one occasion, openly to hiss him. This is 
true, and, by the way, the only truth which I have been 
enabled to gather from the whole scope of his address. 
But why say an American actor ? Why not openly 
charge me with the act ? for I did it, and publicly avowed 
it in the Times newspaper of London, and at the same time 
asserted my right to do so. 

" On the occasion alluded to, Mr. Macready introduced 
a fancy dance into his performance of Hamlet, which I 
designated as a pas de mouchoir, and which I hissed, for I 
thought it a desecration of the scene, and the audience 
thought so too, for in a few nights afterwards, when Mr. 
Macready repeated the part of Hamlet with the same tom 
foolery, the intelligent audience of Ediiiburg greeted it 
with a universal hiss. 

" Mr. Macready is stated to have said last night, that 
up to the time of this act on my part, he had never enter 
tained towards me a feeling of unkindness. I unhesi 
tatingly pronounce this to be a wilful and unblushing false 
hood. I most solemnly aver and do believe that Mr. 



324 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Macready, instigated by his narrow, envious mind, and his 
selfish fears, did secretly not openly suborn several wri 
ters for the English press to write me down. Among 
them was one Forster, a toady of the eminent tragedian 
one who is ever ready to do his dirty work ; and this 
Forster, at the bidding of his patron, attacked me in print 
even before I appeared on the London boards, and con 
tinued his abuse of me at every opportunity afterwards. 

" I assert also, and solemnly believe that Mr. Macready 
connived when his friends went to the theatre in London 
to hiss me, and did hiss me with the purpose of driving me 
from the stage and all this happened many months before 
the affair at Edinburg, to which Mr. Macready refers, and 
in relation to which he jesuitically remarks that until that 
act he never entertained towards me a feeling of unkind- 
ness. Pah! Mr. Macready has no feeling of kindness 
for any actor who is likely, by his talent, to stand in 
his way. His whole course as manager and actor proves 
this there is nothing in him but self self self and his 
own countrymen, the English actors, know this well. Mr. 
Macready has a very lively imagination, and often draws 
upon it for his facts. He said in a speech at New York, 
that there, also, there was an l organized opposition to him, 
which is likewise false. There was no opposition mani 
fested towards him there for I was in the city at the time, 
and was careful to watch every movement with regard to 
such a matter. Many of my friends called upon me when 
Mr. Macready was announced to perform, and proposed to 
drive him from the stage for his conduct towards me in 
London. My advice was, do nothing let the superannu 
ated driveller alone to oppose him would be but to make 
him of some importance. My friends agreed with me it 
was, at least, the most dignified course to pursue, and it 
was immediately adopted. With regard to an organized 
opposition to him in Boston, this is, I believe, equally 
false ; but perhaps in charity to the poor old man, I should 
impute these chimeras dire rather to the disturbed state 
of his guilty conscience, than to any desire upon his part 
wilfully to misrepresent. " EDWIX FORREST. 

"PHILADELPHIA, 1S T OV. 21st, 1848." 

The only mistake we think Mr. Forrest made in 
this letter, was the expression calling Mr. Macready a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 325 

"superannuated driveller/ Mr. Macready was born in 
the year 1793, consequently at the time this article 
was written, 1848, he was but fifty-five years of age. 
A man cannot be called or considered superannuated 
at that age. 

To this letter, Mr. Macready replied in a card "to 
the public/ dated Jones Hotel, Nov. 22nd, 1848 : 

"In a card, published in the Public Ledger and other 
morning papers of this day, Mr, Forrest having avowed 
himself the author of the statement, which Mr. Macready 
has solemnly pledged his honor to be without the least 
foundation, Mr, Macready cannot be wanting in self-respect 
so far as to bandy words upon the subject ; but, as the circu 
lation of such statements is manifestly calculated to preju 
dice Mr. Macready in the opinion of the American public, 
and affect both his professional interests and his estimation 
in society, Mr. Macready respectfully requests the public 
to suspend their judgment upon the questions, until the 
decision of a legal tribunal, before which he will imme 
diately take measures to bring it, and before which he will 
prove his veracity, hitherto unquestioned, shall place the 
truth beyond doubt. * * * 

" For the other aspersions upon Mr. Macready, pub 
lished in the Boston Mail, and now, as it is understood, 
avowed by Mr. Forrest, Mr. Macready will, without delay, 
apply for legal redress." 

Mr. Forrest s reply to this card, goes over the whole 
ground of the reception he received at the Princess 
Theatre, in 1845; Mr. Macready s complicity with 
" Forster," the " toady," the influencing of Bulwer, etc. 
He quotes from the several London papers to show 
that Mr. Macready s "veracity" was at fault. Our 
readers will remember that we have, in a former 
number, gone over the grounds of the quarrel between 
these two gentlemen in 1845 a quarrel which Mr. 
Macready foolishly revived in 1848-9. 



326 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

As regards the threatened law suit, Wm. B. Keed s 
letter to Mr. Macready, dated May 1st, 1849, settles 
the matter. The letter is just such a one as an acute 
and sensible lawyer would write to a client he did not 
intend to fleece ; and Mr. Keed showed his good sense 
in advising his excitable client to keep away from the 
courts. We give an extract from Mr. Reed s letter: 

" Our opinion was, that the publications were libellous, 
and that an action would lie. But we could not reconcile 
it to our sense of duty to you, as a stranger, and one who 
could not remain here to watch the inevitable delay of 
litigation, to advise you thus to assert your rights. In my 
own mind, I was entirely satisfied that none of the attacks 
made on you could in the end do you the least harm, and 
there was, therefore, on my part, no hesitation in advising 
you not to bring a suit. All that since has occurred satis 
fies me that I was right. Your discreet and dignified 
silence under provocation of no ordinary kind, has won 
and kept you many friends, etc. * * 

"WILLIAM B. REED." 

This "dignified silence" consisted in his client 
making injudicious speeches talking loudly at private 
dinners against Mr. Forrest compelling managers to 
refuse free admissions to persons connected with the 
press who wrote against him influencing the press 
by flattering the critics, who in return, praised, puffed, 
and fawned on the great actor ^ at the expense of our 
own tragedian, and independent criticism. 

Mr. Reed s letter is worthy a Philadelphia lawyer; 
he knew there were no grounds for a libel suit^ and gets 
quietly out of the matter by flattering his client with 
such sugared expressions as " your discreet and digni 
fied silence," and having "won and kept many friends." 
The actor swallowed the bait, and the suit was with 
drawn. The hook ; however, was in his gill and ran- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 327 

kled there. His next move was to publish letters from 
England, commenting on the emeute, and compliment 
ing his speeches as manly and dignified. 

The English view taken of the whole matter was 
not endorsed by the American press. Even E. Bulwer 
Lytton s letter to his "dear friend" Macready, dated 
December 16th, 1848, did not explain away his refusal 
to allow Mr. Forrest to play Kichelieu and Claude 
Melnotte. In fact, all his attempts to throw the whole 
blame of the attacks made upon him here on Mr. For 
rest, most signally failed, and the commencement of 
his second engagement foreshadowed a storm that his 
friends like our own " Old Probabilities/ should have 
apprehended by examining the nation s barometer. 
We have spoken of the "B hoys" of New York. In 
addition to what we have said, let us give an extract 
from Mr. William Knight NorthalFs " Before and Be 
hind the Curtain," published in New York, in 1851. 
Speaking of this class known as the " B hoys," he says : 
" It embraced, however, a very wide variety, both of age 
and of character, from the complete rowdy, whose only 
vocation is to ( pick a muss and l run wid der machine 
he rarely works with it to the intelligent young me 
chanic, who on an occasional lark finds a relief from 
the monotony of his daily labor. But when these dis 
cordant materials are brought to harmonize, and act 
upon any occasion in a mass, they form a most effective 
force, whose power in a riot nothing short of military 
discipline can withstand. We have no evidence what 
ever that an understanding existed between the cele 
brated Captain Rynders and the B hoys/ or that the 
Empire Club was cognizant of the coming storm." 

The first night of Mr. Macready s second engage- 



328 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ment, was on May 7th, 1849, at the Astor Place Opera 
House. 

MESSRS. WILLIAM NIBLO AND JAMES H. HACKETT.. .DIRECTORS. 

MACBETH MR. MACREADY. 

LADY MACBETH MRS. POPE. 

BROADWAY THEATRE. 

PROPRIETOR MR. E. A. MARSHALL. 

MACBETH MR. FORREST. 

LADY MACBETH MRS. WALLACK. 

The announcement card of Messrs. Niblo and 
Hackett, of Mr. Macready s appearance, caused consid 
erable excitement, inasmuch as " The Boys " talked 
loudly, and the speeches of Mr. Macready were quoted 
as affording sufficient cause to create a " muss." Mr. 
Forrest s letter exposing the English " King s " en 
deavor to have him hissed, and the success attend 
ing it in London, also added to the excitement ; and 
as the evening approached, it was manifest that a 
spirit of determined resistance to the " Kid-glove " 
gentry (who upheld the English actor at the expense 
of Mr. Forrest) on the part of the class we have al 
ready described, was prevalent. Another thing that 
excited the fears of the manager was the avidity with 
which Opera House tickets were purchased by those 
who had never before been seen in its luxurious in 
terior. That "The Boys" were bound to be there, 
was evident. They probably dreamed as little as any 
one of the extent to which the disturbance would go. 
They looked upon it in two lights first, as a piece of 
fun, and secondly, as the means of teaching foreigners 
a lesson, and not to trifle with the people when national 
pride had aroused the spirit of their sires to put down 
English attempts to govern the "mimic world." The 
love of country in this case overcame the good sense 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 329 

and second thoughts of those who took upon them 
selves the right of redressing grievances. 

Another cause an error of the managers pro 
voked the ire of the crowd. They had sold more 
tickets than the whole " Opera House " could accom 
modate. This completed the alarm of Mr. Niblo, 
who immediately sought the Chief of Police, and re 
quested the presence of a strong detachment of his 
men for the evening. They were granted, but came, 
for the most part, too late to be of much service in the 
scenes which followed. As this evening laid the foun 
dation for the dreadful scenes of the 10th of May, we 
give our readers some account of Mr. Macready s re 
ception. 

As the ominous hour of half-past seven, P. M., 
drew near, the regular "tramp" warning, peculiar to 
the Chatham and Bowery, commenced. Mr. Niblo was 
behind the scenes, in consultation with Mr. Hackett. 
As the first slight echo of the unusual stage reveille 
sounded in his ear, he stepped lightly to the wing, and 
pulling the edge of the drop curtain slightly towards 
him, took a brief but earnest survey of the scene be 
fore him. Officer Bowyer, of the chief s bureau, who 
had just at that moment arrived, was standing beside 
the veteran manager as he was surveying the scene of 
action, and turning to the officer, said : 

" This looks rather dubious, Mr. Bowyer ! " 

"Yes ; the Boys are here, certainly ! What in 
duced you to sell so many tickets ? People are making 
a tremendous rush at the doors yet, and the house is 
full, over-full, already." 

At that instant the orchestra commenced an over 
ture, and the "tramp, tramp," of the " Boys" through 
out the house, for a moment, ceased. 



330 LIFE OF EDWIN FOBREST. 

"What do you think, Mr. Hackett? Is there 
going to be a disturbance ? " 

Hackett did not know, but passed the question to 
Bowyer, who took Mr. Niblo s place at the wing, and 
took a survey at the entire audience. 

" There is mischief in the parquette and amphithe 
atre," he remarked; "but, probably, no actual violence 
will be attempted. The Boys will make a noise, 
and endeavor to prevent the play from proceeding, but 
possibly will do nothing further. They seem to be 
patient and very good-natured, but Mr. Macready may 
expect a rough reception." 

The band of the orchestra ceased, and almost in 
stantly the ominous " tramp, rap, rap," was recom 
menced, but louder and more determined. Mrs. Pope, 
dressed as Lady Macbeth, at this moment, made her 
appearance, pale with real excitement and agitation. 
" My God! Mr. Hackett!" she exclaimed, "what is 
the matter ? Are we to be murdered ? Murdered here 
to-night ? " 

" Keep calm, my dear madame ; there is no cause 
for alarm ; everything will go on smoothly." 

Just before the rising of the curtain, the " tramp, 
tramp rap, rap ! " had entirely ceased ; the house was 
perfectly quiet ; but, alas, it was a lull in the storm 
a calm that bore a significance, which neither the 
managers nor the police understood. 

The curtain rose upon the first scene, when the ap 
pearance of Mr. Clarke, who personated the character 
of Malcolm, elicited three loud and enthusiastic cheers 
from the parquette and gallery. From the moment 
that the cheering, hissing and whistling, and other 
expressions of feeling began, not a syllable was heard 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 331 

during the remainder of the scene, nor the succeeding 
one, till the entrance of Macbeth, passed in dumb show. 
When Macbeth and Banquo entered in the third scene, 
the uproar was deafening. A perfect torrent of groans 
and hisses assailed Mr. Macready, and a deluge of 
assafoetida was discharged upon him from the gallery, 
filling the whole house with its pungent and not par 
ticularly fragrant odor. A rotten egg, a la Montreal, 
was projected against him, but missing his face, be 
spattered the stage at his feet. The friends of Mr. 
Macready, who appeared rather to outnumber those 
opposed to him, now manifested their feelings by cries 
of " Shame ! " " Shame ! " Cheers and waving of hand 
kerchiefs provoked a response in the form of renewed 
groans, hisses, and a half dozen rotten potatoes on the 
part of the others. " Three cheers for Edwin For 
rest ! " were called for by some one in the pit, and were 
given with great enthusiasm by those unfriendly to Mr. 
Macready. Then came the cry of " Three cheers for 
Macready ! " which were responded to with equal en 
thusiasm by the opposite side of the house. The scene 
now beggared description. Hisses, groans, cheers, yells, 
screams, and all sorts of noises, in the midst of which, 
Mr. Macready still maintained his position in the centre 
of the stage. "Off! off!" shouted one party. "Goon! 
go on ! " screamed the other. Mr. Macready approached 
the lights. He was greeted by roars of ironical laughter 
and reiterated hisses and groans. A banner was exhib 
ited in front of the amphitheatre, bearing on one side : 
" No apologies ; it is too late ! " and on the other : 
" You have proved yourself a liar ! " From this it was 
evident that the whole programme of the attack had 
been quietly prepared. The appearance of the banner 



332 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEBEST. 

was the signal for a perfect tornado of uproarious ap 
plause, laughter, cheers and groans, in the midst of 
which an old shoe and a cent piece were hurled at Mr. 
Macready, who picked up the copper coin, and, with a 
kingly air, put it into his bosom, bowing at the same 
time with mock humility to the quarter of the gallery 
from which the visitation had descended. 

Several of Mr. Macready s friends now became much 
excited, and shouted to him to "go on/ and "not give 
up the ship," which elicited tremendous groans, hisses, 
and cries of " three groans for the codfish aristocracy," 
cries of "down with the English hog." "take off the 
Devonshire bull!" " remember how Edwin Forrest was 
used in London ! " Thus passed the whole of the first 
and second acts. The greater portion of the audience 
opposed to Mr. Macready seemed in excellent humor. 
They chanted snatches of the Witches Choruses, and 
amused themselves by asking and answering all kinds 
of ridiculous questions. When the curtain rose on the 
third act, and Macbeth appeared, the uproar was great 
er than ever. Smash came a chair from the gallery, 
strewing the stage with its fragments, within a few 
feet of Mr. Macready. Another chair fell at his feet, 
with a crash which resounded through the house. The 
few ladies in the boxes started up from their seats, and 
grew quite pale. Another chair was hurled on the 
stage, and the curtain suddenly fell. The ladies hur 
ried from the boxes. Thus ended the first attempt of 
Mr. Macready to play in opposition to the popular voice. 

One act of Mr. Macready s during the noise and 
confusion had a tendency to provoke the audience, and 
was no doubt the origin of the subsequent sad and 
fatal disaster. Finding that the hisses were becoming 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 333 

more energetic, and the groans fast rising into yells, he 
suddenly .stepped forward to the foot-lights, and with 
a glance of defiance at the amphitheatre, gradually 
dropped his gaze, until his eyes rested full upon the 
midway occupants of the parquette seats. Then, with 
his arms folded, and his brow contracted with a scowl 
of mingled derision and scorn, he slowly paced the 
breadth of the stage, eyeing, as far as possible, each 
individual who so pertinaciously opposed his proceed 
ing with the play. This was in bad taste it was a 
mistake. The " Boys " became aroused it was not the 
way to conciliate them. Had he adopted a different 
course one more suited to our National feelings, and 
the well known good nature of the American people, 
we question if the scenes which followed would have 
occurred. Allegorically speaking, it was the Lion defy 
ing the Eagle practically, however, it was 

JOHN BULL DEFYING BROTHER JONATHAN. 

It was an imprudent act, and the last one ter 
minating the performance on the evening of May 
7th, 1849. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

THE 19TH OF MAY, 1849. JAMES WATSON WEBB. 

APPEAL TO THE WORKING MEN. THE MILITARY 

PREPARE TO FIRE. THREATS OF THE MOB. ALARM 
IN THE GREEN-ROOM. THE WORD GIVEN. FIRE ! 
THE FEARFUL CLOSE OF THE RIOT. DEATH ! 

A POKTION of the press on Tuesday, the eighth of 
May, made the most unfounded charges against 



334 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Mr. Forrest, and endeavored to hold him responsible for 
the conduct of the oppressors of Macready on the night 
previous. The New York Courier and Enquirer was 
particularly personal, asserting that Mr. Forrest had 
said "that Mr. Macready should never be permitted to 
appear again on any stage in this city." 

To this charge Mr. Forrest, through his counsel, 
Theodore Sedgwick, Esq., replied : " I am instructed 
to say, that every charge against Mr. Forrest, contained 
in the article in question, is absolutely and grossly 
false, and as the attack is coupled with reflections of 
a most improper and offensive character, I hope you 
will see the propriety of retracting and withdrawing 
the accusation in the most immediate, direct and 
ample manner/ etc. 

Before this letter was received by the editor, he had 
actually made an apology, retracting what he said. To 
this article he appended the following P. S. 

"Since the foregoing was written, we have received the 
following letter (an extract we have given above) from Mr. 
Sedgwick, to which we cheerfully give place, and only re 
gret that any charge against, or allusion to Mr. Forrest, in 
connection with this disgraceful riot, should have been 
made. It is quite certain that there is no evidence of Mr. 
Forrest being a party to the proceeding ; and we are bound 
to assume that he was not; and it is also evident that such 
was our conviction previous to the receipt of Mr. Sedg- 
wick s note, from the fact that the foregoing had been al 
ready prepared for publication by our associate, and we 
so apprised Mr. Sedgwick s messenger. 

"JAMES WATSON WEBB." 

We have stated that the original cause of riot and 
bloodshed were the grossly insulting speeches of Ma 
cready, particularly the one delivered in the Astor 
Place Opera House, on the 25th of October. But 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 335 

justice to Mr. Macreacly requires us to say, that after 
the demonstration on the night of the 7th, he would 
have retired without further contest with the public, 
but for the officious interference of a few persons 
who were prompted by various motives to sustain him. 
On the 9th of May, the following letter, signed by 
forty-eight gentlemen of different degrees of respect 
ability, was addressed to Mr. Macready : 

" To W. C. MACREADY, ESQ. 

" DEAR SIR : The undesigned having heard that the 
outrage at the Astor Place Opera House, on Monday eve 
ning, is likely to have the effect of preventing you from 
continuing your performances, and from concluding your 
intended farewell engagement on the American stage, take 
this public method of requesting you to reconsider your 
decision, and of assuring you that the good sense of and 
respect for order prevailing in this community, will sus 
tain you in the subsequent performances." 

The journals favorable to Mr. Macready were en 
thusiastic in their praise of the distinguished citizens 
who signed this letter, and equally fierce in their de 
nunciations of those who had the temerity to hiss him 
off the stage. The Courier, the Commercial, the Mir 
ror, the Express, and the Day Book, fairly dared any 
one to attend at the Opera House on the night of the 
10th, to hiss Macready. Those who hissed him on the 
night of the 7th, were denominated " rowdies," " ruf 
fians/ " blackguards," " rabble/ " lower classes/ and 
"the worst kind of Loco Focos." The Mirror invited 
them to the theatre to have another " trial of strength," 
and the Courier assured Mr. Macready that he was not 
opposed " by any portion of the American people of 
whose approbation and esteem he would be at all de 
sirous." 



336 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

. Thus it will be seen that the friends of Mr. Ma- 
cready, and the personal and political enemies of Mr. 
Forrest, united in giving an invitation to those who 
felt aggrieved by the conduct of Macready, to meet 
them at the Opera House, on the evening of the 10th, 
and try which party was the strongest ! The dis 
tinguished forty-eight thought their names alone suf 
ficient to subdue any outbreak on the part of the 
"lower classes." 

The sequel proved that they did not estimate suf 
ficiently the strength of Macready s opponents, nor the 
depth of feeling which had been excited against him. 
On a trial of strength the distinguished forty-eight, 
and the aristocracy, generally, were no match for the 
" Boys." 

On Tuesday evening, May 8th, for which Mr. Ma- 
cready had been announced in Richelieu, the Opera 
House was closed. On Wednesday, Mr. Hackett him 
self played in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Mr. 
Macready having consented to play again after the 
reception of the letter, Thursday night was fixed 
for his re-appearance in Macbeth. Both parties pre 
pared for the struggle. As we have said, it was to 
be a trial of strength " Aristocracy and the English 
Clique vs. The Lower Classes." The lessees, with 
some of the signers of the letter, called upon Mayor 
Woodhull and concocted measures for defending the 
Opera House in case of a riot. They also secured 
large quantities of tickets, and distributed them freely 
for the purpose of securing a favorable reception. 
Their opponents in the meantime were not idle. Pla 
cards were posted about the walls, some pretending to 
favor Mr. Macready, and couched in language adapted 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 337 

to excite prejudice against him some were more 
openly hostile, of which the following is a specimen : 

WORKING MEN, 

SHALL 

AMERICANS OR ENGLISH RULE 

In this city ? 

The crew of the British Steamer have threatened all Americans 
tvho shall dare to express their opinion this night at the English 
Aristocratic Opera House ! ! 

We advocate no violence, but a free expression of opinion to all 
public men ! 

WORKING MEN! FREEMEN!! 

STAND BY YOUR 

LAWFUL RIGHTS. 

AMERICAN COMMITTEE. 

On Thursday morning, May 10th, the rival pla 
cards were placed side by side : 

ASTOR PLACE OPERA HOUSE. 

DIRECTORS. 

Messrs. Wm. Niblo, & Jas. H. Hackett. 
This evening will be performed 

MACBETH. 

Macbeth, Mr. Macready. Lady Macbeth, Mrs. Pope. 
BROADWAY THEATRE. 
Proprietor E. A. Marshall. 
This evening will be performed 

THE GLADIATOR. 

Spartacus, Mr. Forrest. Julia, Miss Wallack. 

From a work entitled, " Before and Behind the 
Curtain," by William Knight Northall, New York, 
1851, we give an extract describing this terrible night- 
scene, which, for brevity and force, surpasses all others 
that were given on the morning after the riot. It will 
close our account of the 

ASTOR PLACE OPERA HOUSE.* 

" It was peculiarly unfortunate that just at the time 

* Shortly after the trial of the supposed rioters, the whole pro 
ceedings were published, but as the details are dry and technical, and 
given in law phraseology, we deem the statement given here fully 
sufficient to furnish our readers some idea of this most terrible riot. 

21 



338 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

the new Mayor, but a day or two installed, was scarcely 
versed enough, in the duties of his position to act with 
all the decision that was required. Still, dispositions 
were made on Thursday to meet any emergency, by de 
tailing a body of three hundred men to the Opera 
House, and ordering two regiments of citizen soldiery 
to be under arms, and at their quarters on that evening. 
The Opera House was carefully occupied, the men 
posted, and the windows barricaded ; and thus they 
awaited for the conflict to commence. 

"As soon as the doors were opened, a rush com 
menced, which, in a very short time, nearly filled the 
house. Most of the doors were soon closed again, and 
the complaint was made that none were admitted 
but those who bore tickets with the private mark of 
the Macready party. * 

" An attempt was made by a party outside to batter 
down one of the doors, but was prevented by the police. 
The glass lamps were broken, and stones were thrown 
through a single window that had been left unbarred, 
falling inside among the audience. The play com 
menced, amid a storm of cheers and hisses. But, on 
the whole, the scene within the house was of a less ex 
citing character than on the previous night. The 
audience had been carefully picked, and "the Boys" 
were in the minority. Still they maintained a deter 
mined noise. The play proceeded almost in dumb 
show until after the commencement of the second act. 
Then, just as the rioters were about to jump in a body 

* It appeared in evidence, upon the trial of Edward Z. C. Judson 
(Ned Buntline),who, it was said,headed the mob outside, and called 
upon them to stone the building, that some of these tickets were ob 
tained by his opponents and supplied to the friends of " Ned Forrest." 
This was termed, " Shooting the Egyptians." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 339 

from the parquette to the stage, the chief of police 
gave the preconcerted signal by raising his hat. In 
an instant, the police sprang to their work. The house 
was quickly cleared of all but a few of the most vio 
lent, the doors were closed again, and the latter found 
themselves very cleverly caught, and most effectually 
prevented from helping their friends outside. Thus 
ended the play within." 

The Herald, speaking of the scene, said : " At this 
time, the scene within the house was indeed most ex 
citing. In front and rear, the fierce assaults of the 
mob, as they thundered at the doors, resounded all 
over the theatre, while the shouts and yells of the as 
sailants were terrific. Inside, however, all was com 
paratively quiet/ 

As the mob increased in magnitude, and in the 
ferocity with which they assailed the building, the cry 
arose inside, and also outside, among the peaceable 
citizens " Where are the police ? Cannot anything 
be done to disperse the rioters ? Where is the Mayor ? 
Military ? " 

Let us renew our extracts from Mr. Northall s 
account : 

" The Seventh Kegiment marched up Broadway, led 
by a body of horse. Their arrival upon the scene of 
action only made the mob more furious, and they were 
attacked with stones and missiles of all descriptions. 
The horse were soon forced to withdraw, but the in 
fantry stood their ground like veterans. The civil 
authorities delayed the order to fire; and meanwhile 
the troops were exposed to the most incessant annoy 
ance, without the power of defending themselves. 

" At last it become evident that they must fire or 



340 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

withdraw. It was even doubtful whether they could 
withdraw whether, on the first symptoms of retreat, 
the mob would not overwhelm them and wrest the 
muskets from their hands. As a last effort, Kecorder 
Talmadge boldly went forward and harangued the 
rioters. But it was in vain ! in vain ! although with 
a voice, Stentorian and trumpet-toned, he informed the 
frenzied masses that in the eye of the law they were 
all rioters ; that if blood were shed, if life were taken, 
they alone were responsible for the consequences ; 
that the military were present to protect the theatre, 
to protect Mr. Macready, to preserve the peace of the 
city, and their duty would be performed at all haz 
ards ! that the muskets of the National Guards were 
loaded with ball cartridges, and that, in one minute, 
unless they ceased that disgraceful tumult, the pain 
ful, but necessary order would be given to FIRE ! and 
that the troops would obey that order ! He then 
appealed to them as good citizens as members of 
the great family of Americans, worshipping at free 
dom s altar he adjured them no longer thus to des 
ecrate her sacred temple. He concluded with saying : 
Ketire instantly to your homes depart, each one 
of you ! I warn you, upon your peril, remain in this 
vicinity not one moment longer! Depart, I adjure 
you, and let this street be cleared, or the soldiers 
here beside me your own brothers the armed citi 
zens of New York will fire upon you, as sure as 
there is a God above us ! This building will be pro 
tected, whatever consequences ensue; the sacred ma 
jesty of the law ivill be vindicated ! Disperse ! Don t 
wait for the fearful order! Disperse! Every good 
citizen will linger here no longer. Go home! each one 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 341 

go home ! For God s sake, fellow-citizens ! brothers ! 
quit this spot, and let this tumult this cruel and 
dastardly attack cease ! 

"The only replies to those humane and philan 
thropic efforts were renewed ahuse, scoffs, hoots, yells 
of defiance, and fresh vollies of stones ! 

"In truth, such was the diabolical uproar, that 
even the strong voice of the Recorder could be heard 
but a few feet from the spot where he stood; and 
probably few, very few, of the mob ever understood a 
word of the remonstrance the earnest request, or the 
menace ! 

" Gen. Hall/ said the Recorder, as he slowly 
struggled through the crowd up to the spot where 
that officer was standing, at the right of the bat 
talion under his immediate charge, you must order 
your men to fire ! It is a terrible alternative, but there 
is no other ! 

" i Is the Mayor here to issue the order ? queried 
the careful soldier. 

" Sheriff Westervelt s authority is sufficient. 
Mayor Woodhull, as I am just informed by Justice 
Mountfort, has left the theatre and taken up his head 
quarters at the New York Hotel/ 

" i Had not the Mayor best be sent for ? asked 
one of the minor magistrates present. 

" The National Guards cannot stand here another 
minute ! responded simultaneously General Sanford 
and Col. Duryea, who had just joined the conference. 
c Nearly one-third of the force is disabled already/ 

" i You need not send for the Mayor ; he will not 
come here again to-night/ interposed a policeman, his 
head bound with a handkerchief, beneath which the 



342 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

blood was trickling down his cheek, from a severe blow 
t)f a stone over the temple. 

" What say you, Sheriff Westervelt ? asked 
General Hall. 

" < Has the Riot Act been read ? interrupted a well- 
dressed sympathizer/ dodging his head out of the 
door- way. 1 L warn you never to fire upon the people 
until they hear the Riot Act ! 

" The Riot Act has been heard sufficiently all the 
evening/ replied the Recorder. i Mr. Sheriff, I con 
sider your duty plain and imperative ! 

" ( Gen. Sanford ! was Mr. Westervelt s response, 
you have my permission to act as you consider in 
dispensable in this emergency ! 

" Do you give me the order to fire ? 

" ( I do, sir ! It is the only resource left ! 

" Mr. Matsell, call in your policemen we shall 
be forced to employ bullets in half a minute ! And 
stepping in front of the line, Gen. Sanford, with some 
difficulty, made himself understood so as to bring 
the troops to the position of i ready/ at the same 
time warning the mob to fall back, as the guards 
would most assuredly fire ! He was accompanied 
by Gen. Hall and Col. Duryea, who exerted them 
selves to the utmost in inducing the people to re 
tire, and thus save themselves and force the painful 
alternative ! 

" But all this was of no avail. The rioters would 
not understand that the movement was sincere, or else, 
in their mad passion, they seemed determined to brave 
even death itself, rather than desist from their infa 
mous assaults. 

" < Fire and be d d ! < Fire if you dare ! 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 343 

1 To Hell with your guns ! Shoot away, you infer 
nal sons of ! 

" i Fire into this/ yelled a grimed and heavy-headed 
rioter, holding a large stone between his knees, while 
with both hands he tore open the bosom of his red 
shirt. Take the life out of a free born American 
for a bloody British actor ! Do it, aye, you darsen t/ 

" Fire, will ye ! screamed another, hurling a missile 
at Gen. Sanford, which took effect upon his sword arm, 
rendering it powerless for the time take that, ye 
chalk-livered oakum-faced rat/ i Ho ! all together, 
now boys ! Hit em again ! Give the counter jumping 
sogers hell/ and other similar, but more outrageous 
language, was the only response to their humane efforts. 

"At the moment when Sheriff Westervelt indicated 
to Gen. Sanford the determination of the authorities 
to resort to the extreme remedy, the police, with their 
stars concealed, were intermingled with the crowd, im 
mediately in front of the theatre. They had just 
restored the captured muskets to the troops, and occa 
sionally singling out a rioter more violent and dis 
orderly than the rest, they would manage to jostle 
him from the mass, when, by a sudden and concealed 
movement, they were sometimes successful in effecting 
his arrest and removal to the interior. It was a mat 
ter of imminent necessity, that these policemen should 
be called within the lines immediately, but the task 
proved not at all an easy one, since at the time the 
chief received his caution from Gen. Sanford, a pretty 
energetic fight was progressing for the possession of a 
prisoner, between the officers and the rioters. 

"As it was, the first volley was fired while many of 
the policemen were still in the midst of the mob ; and 



344 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

even at the second discharge, several of them were ex 
posed, they being still within the range of the military. 

" The pause for the last but fatal command was brief 
yet those few moments were almost hours of fearful 
suspense to those who knew that death brooded over 
that mass of criminality and violence ! Certainly, the 
general aim was not a murderous one ; yet none could 
tell the mischief about to be occasioned by a glancing 
ball or stray bullet. Friends and relatives, possibly, 
were amid the multitude before them ! And besides, a 
dangerous and delicate experiment was about to be 
tried ! If this demonstration did not serve to intimi 
date, what would be the result ? Would the guards 
obey the order if commanded to pour a point-blank 
volley into the bosoms of their fellow-citizens ? 

" These were startling questions ! Nay, they were 
terrible ! 

"A moment or two would decide all ! 

" Fire! 

" The word came from Gen. Hall, clear and distinct. 
It was heard above the din and confusion, along the 
whole line. 

" A single musket, on the extreme left, responded ! 

" Fire! exclaimed Gen. Sanford, with all the 
energy of voice his lungs would afiord. 

" Three more pieces on the right were discharged 
almost simultaneously. 

" Fire! Guards!! Fire!!! 7 shouted Col. Duryea 
and the remainder of the volley flashed forth, the 
pieces speaking with that sharper and fuller toned 
report which distinguished the service charge from 
the mere powder and paper of field day ! 

" The instant glare lit up a sea of angry faces on 



I 

LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 345 

Astor Place of human forms clustered in the windows 
and on the roofs of the adjacent buildings ; the tattered 
and broken lamps in front for a moment were seen clear 
and distinct the shattered windows of the theatre 
itself were for a twinkling visible, and then all again 
was darkness ! while the blue sulphurous smoke rolled 
outward among the crowd, or curled in dim eddies 
around the Guards themselves ! 

" And thus ended the Astor Place riots. The mob 
soon broke and fled ; for they knew now the authori 
ties were terribly in earnest. The obnoxious player 
was vanquished and driven out ; but it had cost thirty 
American lives to do it. The majesty of the law was 
vindicated ! 

"Peace to the memory of those who fell; let us not 
judge harshly of the dead." 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

THE CAUSES LEADING TO THE DIVORCE BETWEEN MR. 

FORREST AND HIS WIFE. DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AMERICAN AND ENGLISH 

LIFE. MRS. FORREST. STATE OF THE DRAMA. 

ENGLISH ACTORS, AND ACTRESSES. A LEGAL OPIN 
ION. CORRUPT LEGISLATURE. 

WE had purposed to pass over in silence that pain 
ful episode in the life of Mr. Forrest, known in 
criminal records as " The Forrest Divorce Case/ but 
as it placed that gentleman in a false light through a 
biassed court and jury, a few of the leading facts of the 



I 

346 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

case we deem necessary in connection with these Rem 
iniscences. It may also be mentioned that many mem 
bers of the theatrical profession, particularly at that 
period, were not considered as models of good hus 
bands, nor their wives "angels of the household." 

We do not deny but that the stage has furnished 
many grave reasons for critical censure, by sustaining 
actors and actresses whose conduct was gradually les 
sening its moral tendency. This, however, is not the 
general character of those of the theatrical profession, 
but it has been sufficient to elicit censure from the 
opponents of the stage. They have gone so far as to 
say, the "theatre is a school of vice," a a place to learn 
wickedness," and "that corruption and debauchery are 
the truly natural and genuine effects of stage entertain 
ments." This domestic difficulty of Mr. Forrest s, is 
only one of a hundred grievances traceable to the de 
testable influence of the French and English school of 
morals which have flooded the land for years. It is 
well known that the English and French, or at least 
many of them, have none of that refined sense of what 
constitutes the real pleasure of the domestic circle. 
The manners and customs of a country are the crite- 
rions by which we form our opinions of those who prac 
tice them both at home and abroad. The influence of 
education properly exercised, with a strict eye to the 
observances of the rules of etiquette, are readily dis 
cernible in those whose parents direct the education of 
their children. Mrs. Forrest s parents, or at least the 
father, was a professional man, and had all those 
notions of life derived from a stage point. It was 
English life as exemplified both on the stage and off, 
but totally unsuited to that of the American. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 347 

If Mr. Forrest had established in his household 
certain rules, and taught his wife the difference between 
English and American habits, much of the evil, arising 
out of their misunderstanding, might have been obvi 
ated. The effect, however, of this neglect soon became 
apparent, all of which for awhile, Mr. Forrest bore in 
silence, the time came, however, when he found it 
necessary to remonstrate. 

It was said on the trial that when Mr. and Mrs. 
Sinclair came to this country, with their daughters, 
they made Mr. Forrest s house their home, where they 
made themselves perfectly happy, not only in the enjoy 
ment of what the wealth of the son-in-law afforded, but 
drawing around them men and women with whom Mr. 
Forrest had little or no acquaintance. This in a man 
ner estranged man and wife, for Mr. Forrest as it is 
well known, was never fond of home company, unless 
of his own immediate household. 

During the whole course of Mr. Forrest s dramatic 
career, his object was to maintain the dignity, charac 
ter and morality of the drama, and to make the theatre 
a source of noble and useful entertainments. As a 
professional man, few ever enjoyed a higher reputa 
tion, both on and off the stage, for upwards of fifty 
years, than did Mr. Forrest, and when this sad episode 
in his private life occurred, no one ever suffered more 
mentally and physically than he did, for as he said : 
"this state of things has destroyed my peace of mind, 
and is wearing out my life." 

As Mrs. Forrest is still living, and usefully em 
ployed, occupying a position in society alike respecta 
ble and honorable, we shall refrain from making use 
of the witnesses who testified so strongly against her 



348 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

on the trial. We do this because, to speak candidly, 
we think some of them magnified the social par 
ties of Mrs. Forrest materially, and not understand 
ing the difference between actors and actresses from 
those of other professions, felt shocked at their free 
and liberal manners. That these witnesses were so in 
fluenced, we have no doubt, and indeed we might say 
with that eccentric author of " Tristam Shandy," that 
these witnesses were like the armies spoken of in that in 
comparable work " Who Swore terribly in Flanders/ 
As a specimen of the evidence, and we may say the 
most important, showing the gradual working up of 
the case, and the beginning of Mr. Forrest s change of 
behavior to his wife, we give the following evidence as 
sworn to by their house-keeper : 

"At all times previous to the month of January, 1849, 
the said Edwin Forrest had always treated his wife in a 
kind and affectionate manner. I considered him a very 
indulgent husband ; whenever he was in the city, and not 
absent upon his professional engagements, he was very do 
mestic in his habits; and during the whole time that I have 
known them, up to January, 1849, their intercourse was 
extremely confidential, affectionate and intimate. 

" And I further say, that while I was in Mr. Forrest s 
house in Reade Street, the demeanor of both him and his 
wife was most kind and affectionate, and I had not the 
slightest reason to doubt that they were mutually very 
much attached to each other. 

"When I returned to live as house-keeper with the 
said Edwin Forrest, in the month of January, 1847, the 
said Forrest and his wife went to the south, where they 
remained for about two months, and shortly after they re 
turned, in the spring of the year 1847, I heard conversa 
tions among the servants about the late hours kept by Mrs. 
Forrest and the gentlemen admitted to the house at such 
late hours, and I soon perceived that the state of things 
between Mr. Forrest and his wife had entirely altered." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 349 

Other portions of the evidence as given on the 
trial are totally unfit for publication. But as the jury 
ignored this evidence in rendering its decision, so will 
we (except in one instance), but will confine ourselves 
simply to the statements made by each of the parties 
and that of a few friends. There is enough in these 
to show that, guilty or innocent of any actual crime, 
there is sufficient in these statements to satisfy the 
reader that Mr. Edwin Forrest and Mrs. Catharine 
Sinclair Forrest could never again live together as 
man and wife ! 

" Of all the passions, jealousy 
Exacts the hardest services, and pays 
The bitterest wages." 

The scenes as detailed on the trial were of such a 
nature as to horrify our American ideas of propriety, 
and yet are thought nothing of in France and England. 
The servants, not accustomed to this mode of enter 
taining guests, viewed the whole affair in a criminal 
light, and indeed to them it so appeared. That pure 
moral tone which should produce harmony in the 
household, and strengthen love, is made discord, by re 
pudiating the marriage vow, and the refinement so 
essential to the female character. 

A true woman is the embodiment of virtue ; she 
stands like the sun 

" And all which rolls round 
Drinks life, and light, and glory from her aspect." 

Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt. It is vice 
that spreads its poison through the soul, and closes up 
all the avenues leading to the portals of purity. It is 
vice that demoralizes society, pales the fair face of vir 
tue, and though 



350 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

" Well perfumed, and elegantly dressed, 
Like an unburied carcass tucked with flowers, 
Is but a garnished nuisance, better far 
For cleanly riddance than for attire." 

Shortly after the conclusion of the trial, Mr. Forrest 
visited Philadelphia. We were at that time writing a 
series of dramatic articles for the Pennsylvanian, the 
editor and proprietor of which was our much esteemed 
and valued friend, John W. Forney, Esq. We give 
the following article entire, which we wrote at that 
time, 1852. Then, as now, we endeavor to shield the 
lady from the serious impression the trial had made 
on the minds of the community, by attributing the 
cause to levity and improper training in her youth : 

THE DRAMA. 

Mr. Edwin Forrest, with some remarks on the morality of 
the Drama. 

BY COLLEY GIBBER. 

" The visit of Mr. Edwin Forrest to his native city 
his home, his residence, in despite of the New York 
clique, has been one of a pleasurable character, although 
the mantle of sorrow weighs heavily upon him. A re 
view of the extraordinary trial through which he had 
passed, its extraordinary result, the triumph of a clique, 
the prejudice of a court, and the hostility of a jury, fully 
satisfies us that the whole scene was a base attempt to sub 
serve the interests of that clique, at the expense of truth 
and justice. The enormous amount of alimony an 
amount predicated on the interest of a man s estate, 
guessed at by ex-parte witnesses, has astonished and con 
founded every one.* The real cause of Mr. Forrest s com 
plaint, the breaking up of his domestic peace, the ruin ol 
his prospects in the connubial state, were thrown aside, and 
his errors, made so under the English law, which still ex 
ists in New York, to sustain a subject of that ilk, and 

* Alimony, an allowance to which a married woman is entitled 
upon a legal separation from her husband, when she is not charged 
with adultery or an elopement. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 351 

satisfy its adherents. We ask, what else is the construc 
tion that can be put upon this most extraordinary case and 
its results? Malice did its work; a jury made up of Mr. 
Forrest s enemies a jury determined to crush him, ac 
complished the rest. Mr. Forrest had been made the easy 
tool of designing men; his noble, generous nature abused, 
household invaded, himself cheated. These are the friends 
of the unwary, the confiding. 

" Has this trial and its result lessened him here ? No. 
His English foes have got a portion of his wealth it was 
their aim they can now revel on it. 

" It will be understood that we take the view of those 
scenes described by the witnesses as occurring in Mr. For 
rest s house, already expressed by us, from an English 
stand-point, both as regards their social and public habits. 
The English stage, never too pure, furnishes us a history 
that is calculated not only to effect the moral, but the 
literary character of an institution, intended to be the 
noblest in the world. 

"Take a glance even now around among our dif 
ferent theatres ; managers as well as actors figure largely 
as bigamists, and many of the women as their part 
ners in the crime. We have now two or three Mrs. 
B . We have the husband of one of them keep 
ing a tavern in Georgia, and another sojourning in other 
lands. We could unfold the history of another whose 
crimes have grown gray in the annals of our drama; we 
could speak of one who has turned his wife and children 
out of doors, and takes in her place another man s wife ! 
We could tell of one whose name is allied to vice in 
every shape and form we could tell of females, one 
who lived with the murderer of her husband, and 
whose death transferred her to infamy and still deeper in 
vileness. We could speak of one who left her husband, 
and now passes as the wife of a man who has two other 
wives living. Another manager, bought the wife of a 
musician engaged in the orchestra of his own theatre, for 
a new suit of clothes and fifty dollars cash ! 

" Are not these dreadful things? Do we not live in an 
age of crime ? Is there any wonder why the drama is de 
based, and the moral tone of a theatre destroyed ? Crime 
and depravity, vice and immorality attract, while modest 
talent, allied to virtue, is disregarded. Such is the charac- 



352 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ter of that class, from which spring those evils which are 
demoralizing society. Little crimes become as nothing, 
and larger ones fashionable ; we adopt the manners of the 
foreigner, and learn to imitate his vices. Whatever may 
have been the character of those who visited the house of 
Mr. Forrest during his absence, such at least is the charac 
ter of two-thirds of those who now sway the destinies of 
the drama and the stage ! 

"We have never joined in the hue and cry against 
Mrs. Forrest. That she erred in judgment, acted without 
reflection, there can be no doubt. A jury has pronounced 
her innocent, but let her glance back; let her review calmly 
and dispassionately a career of life commenced under the 
brightest and most cheering of prospects ; let her recall 
those happy moments when, with youth and innocence, 
she clasped the noble form and heart of the husband of her 
choice to her arms then contrast the rest. If the fault 
was mutual which first chilled the fever of love, mutual 
should have been their resolve ; the man might have de 
viated the man could have forsook his home and found 
peace, such as it was, in other places, but the wife never. 

"But alas! from out of this strange and mixed-up affair, 
what has not come ? The victim, the sufferer to English 
habits and customs is our countryman, our townsman; the 
vices of that school, have nearly corrupted our own ; and 
it is now the duty of the American people to ask the ques 
tion How much longer will we tolerate English vice and 
immorality on the stage f 

" In the city of New York, there have been managers of 
theatres, whose histories are the best commentaries that 
can be offered or given on English dramatic habits, man 
ners and customs. Connected with these men are the 
wives of some dozen poor debased actors, whose habits 
and contemptibility are such that the crimes of their bet 
ter halves are as nothing. It is from such a state of things 
many of our national vices spring. But how is it when an 
American actor is accused of such a thing ! How is it 
when he asks for redress from domestic evils ! Does the 
law wink at his acts as it does at those of the English ! 
Oh, no he is persecuted and prosecuted perjury, and the 
combined efforts of the clique that rules in Gotham, are all 
brought to bear ; and thus, while vice and immorality are 
winked at, and sanctioned when they are confined to for- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORBEST. 353 

eigners, an AMERICAN" ACTOR is MADE TO PAY THREE 
THOUSAND DOLLARS per annum to sustain the cause of 
these English customs in our midst ! " 

Such was the state of the stage at the period 
named and from out of which came the " Forrest Divorce 
Case." Is it therefore to be wondered at, that a deep- 
rooted prejudice against the stage should be the result 
of these abuses. 

New York and Brooklyn, at the present writing, 
are sad illustrations of this state of things, the pub 
lication of which in the papers, has shocked the 
whole country, as high-toned men and women are 
scandalously mixed up. The demon of Free Love 
has napped his wings in triumph over cities once 
celebrated for their moral and religious tendencies. 
In many cases a divorce is not asked for by parties 
guilty of unlawful acts, for it not unfrequently hap 
pens that man and wife are equally culpable, and 
an exposure would only tend to a conviction of 
both. In the "Forrest Divorce Case," both hus 
band and wife accused each other of the grossest 
misconduct. A verdict, however, was given in favor 
of the wife, and the court ordered her husband to 
pay three thousand dollars alimony per annum; the 
lady was declared innocent by verdict of the jury. 
If the law admitted her claim to a wife s share 
of the husband s property then a law peculiar, 
probably, to New York what hinders her from obtain 
ing the same, if not all of his property now ? She is, 
de facto, the sole heir, as no relative of the deceased 
lives to claim it, or is any blood relation named in the 
will. The court sustained her then ; why not sustain 
her now ? If it was right before the death of Mr. For- 
22 



354 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

rest, is it not right now ? It may be asked here, why 
the divorce was not granted in our State when brought 
before the Legislature. We regret to say, and it is 
with feelings of deep sorrow we assert the fact, it was 
because Mr. Forrest was too honorable to yield to the 
demand of some of its members for " certain considera 
tions" before the question was brought before them. 
A member of the Legislature told the writer of this, 
and others, that for five thousand dollars he could have 
had the bill passed! This man was friendly to Mr. 
Forrest, and was willing to serve him, and for that sum 
he could have the whole thing settled. Where is a 
man to look for justice when he has to pay his way to 
the very portals of legislative halls ? Hence we infer 
that this same sort of influence would have materially 
changed the aspect of the case in New York. It was 
not used ; hence the result. 

As we have stated, it is not our purpose to go over 
the whole ground of this case ; but in justice to the 
memory of Mr. Forrest, it is necessary to give here the 
cause which induced him to propose a separation from 
his wife. Sometime before the trial, in open court, the 
proposition was to this effect ; to avoid scandal, he 
would allow her fifteen hundred dollars per annum, to 
all of which she agreed, and for awhile the terms were 
strictly adhered to. As the first grounds of suspicion 
a husband has of a wife s infidelity, are either true or 
false, the proof of the latter should be positive before 
a single movement on hie part should be made. Cir 
cumstances not unfrequently have placed an innocent 
woman in a false position in the sight of her husband, 
whose hasty conclusions have entailed upon both, long 
mental agony and physical suffering. It was not so in 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOftEEST. 355 

Mr. Forrest s case. Let us give his version of the first 
cause which led him to suspect his wife s infidelity. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

THE FIRST-CAUSE OF SUSPICION. STARTLING DISCLO 
SURES. JAMIESON AT BAY. THE PHRENOLOGIST. 

THE DISCOVERY. PRIVATE DRAWER. THE LET 
TER. SEPARATION. MR. FORREST S LETTER TO 

HIS WIFE. 

IN the year 1848, Mr. Forrest went to perform a 
professional engagement in Cincinnati, and was ac 
companied by Mrs. Forrest and Mr. Jamieson. During 
this visit, on the 31st of May, 1848, Mr. Forrest left 
his hotel for an hour, for the purpose of having his por 
trait taken, but, disappointed by the artist, he returned 
suddenly. We will let him tell the rest: "When I 
entered my private parlor in the City Hotel, I preceded 
S. S. Smith, who was with me, some yards, and found 
Mrs. Forrest standing between the knees of Mr. Jamie- 
son, who was sitting on the sofa, with his hands upon 
her person. I was amazed and confounded, and asked 
what it meant. Mrs. Forrest replied, with consider 
able perturbation, that Mr. Jamieson had been point 
ing out her phrenological developments. Being of an 
unsuspicious nature, and anxious to believe that it was 
nothing more than an act of imprudence on her part, I 
was for a time quieted by this explanation. After we 
left Cincinnati, I observed that Mrs. Forrest carefully 
preserved about her person a bundle of letters ; and 



356 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

although it was unusual for her to do so, it made no 
very material impression upon me at the time. In the 
month of January, 1849, Mrs. Forrest went to a party 
at her sister s (Mrs. Voorhees), and I remained at 
home. In the course of the evening I opened a drawer 
with a key in my possession, and found the bundle of 
letters I had seen Mrs. Forrest preserve with so much 
care. They were, with but one exception, letters writ 
ten by Mrs. Voorhees to Mrs. Forrest. Among them 
was the letter, in the handwriting of George W. Jamie- 
son, written to her under the soubriquet of ( Consuelo. 
Shortly afterwards, I charged her with having received 
this letter from Mr. Jamieson, when she acknowledged 
that Mr. Jamieson gave it to her while we were on 
board a steamboat, and about to leave Cincinnati for 
Pittsburg." [The time referred to by Mrs. Forrest, 
when she received this letter from Jamieson, was on 
the 14th of May, 1848.] 

" I further state that the facts set forth in my 
petition for a divorce, and presented to the Senate 
and House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, are 
just and true. 

"I have read the remonstrance of Mrs. Forrest, and 
solemnly declare that the statements therein made, 
especially the alleged ground of separation, are untrue. 

" Since the separation, I have voluntarily allowed 
her the sum of fifteen hundred dollars per annum, for 
her support, which has been punctually paid her in ad 
vance. My present income is about forty-three hun 
dred dollars per annum. 

" Since I was about nineteen years of age, I have 
supported my mother s family, and still continue to do 
so. I do not state this to claim any merit, but to show 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 357 

that I have, in spite of all her grounds of complaint, 
made to Mrs. Forrest a most liberal allowance for her 
support." 

Mr. S. S. Smith, in his deposition, said : " On 
tho clay referred to, in the month of May, at Cincin 
nati, I was present when Mr. and Mrs. Forrest, and 
Mr. Jamieson agreed to attend an interview with a 
phrenologist, at three o clock in the afternoon. At 
two o clock, of the same day, I went with Mr. For 
rest to the studio of an artist, with whom it was un 
derstood he was to sit an hour for his portrait. The 
painter not being at home, Mr. Forrest and I immedi 
ately and unexpectedly returned to the City Hotel. 
In entering the hotel, Mr. Forrest preceded me 
about ten yards, and entered his private parlor a 
short time before me. 

" Upon my entrance, I found Mr. Jamieson and Mr. 
and Mrs. Forrest there. Mr. Jamieson immediately 
afterwards, notwithstanding his previous engagement 
to attend the phrenological examination, precipitately 
and without notice left the room, and when I searched 
for him he was not to be found in the house or its vi 
cinity. I have known Mr. Forrest well for many years, 
and after the interview above mentioned, I observed a 
high and unusual degree of excitement on the part of 
Mr. Forrest in relation to his wife a feeling which, 
intimate as I was with him and his wife, I had never 
witnessed before. I firmly believe that something 
must have been observed by Mr. Forrest upon his 
entrance into the room, in the position or deport 
ment of Mr. Jamieson and Mrs. Forrest, which pro 
duced this change in Mr. Forrest. Mr. Forrest walked 
more rapidly than myself, and he entered the room so 



358 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

far before me, that I had no opportunity of seeing or 
knowing what it was that produced the change in him. 
I had always known Mr. Forrest previously as a most 
affectionate and confiding husband, but from that time 
there was a manifest change in his demeanor towards 
his wife." 

Mr. Forrest did not let his wife know that he had 
in his possession the celebrated letter of "Consuelo" 
notoriety, immediately after her return from the party 
alluded to, as the following evidence, given on the trial, 
will show. What his feelings were, can be better 
imagined than described. One of the witnesses said : 

" Mr. Forrest remained at home, alone ; during the 
evening I heard him walking up and down, rapidly, in 
his library and bedroom ; and I thought, from his 
disturbed manner, that he was uneasy, and had some 
thing on his mind. I went to bed about twelve o clock, 
and before Mrs. Forrest had returned. Mrs. Forrest 
returned about two o clock, A. M." 

Another witness, the house-keeper, stated " that 
there was a violent altercation between Mr. and Mrs. 
Forrest, in the library, and that it lasted a long time. 
In the course of the same day, Catharine Forrest told 
me, substantially, what one of the servants had said ; 
that she had had an angry dispute the night before 
with her husband ; that she had never seen him so 
much excited before ; that he said something terrible 
was going to happen ; and she could not tell what he 
meant/ 

" On the morning in question, Mrs. Forrest went to 
the bottom drawer of one of the bureaus, which was 
always kept locked, and began to examine some papers 
which it contained, when, of a sudden she started back 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 359 

and exclaimed, Good God, what a fool sister Ratten 
is ! I then went out of the bedroom into the library. 
Almost immediately after, I returned and said to II<T, 
( Why, what is the matter with you ? to which Mrs. 
Forrest replied, c He has got that letter/ She then 
said something about Mr. Jamieson and Consuelo, 
and continued, now I know what he meant by the 
conversation we had together, it is separation/ Mrs. 
Forrest then went immediately to another drawer, 
which she unlocked ; it contained some letters ; then 
she said, I am glad he did not open this drawer, he 
might have found some more letters/ And the same 
clay, in my presence, Mrs. Forrest destroyed a quantity 
of letters and papers which she took from that drawer. 
A few days afterwards, Mrs. Forrest said to me, that 
Mr. Forrest had told her (Mrs. Forrest) the night be 
fore, that he had found the letter from Mr. Jamieson 
and had determined to separate from her/ 

Edwin Forrest and his wife separated on the first 
day of May, 1849, both leaving the house on Twenty- 
Second Street. We have adverted to the cause or 
causes leading to this unfortunate termination of what, 
at first, promised a long and happy wedded life. But 
there are some other facts necessary to allude to here, 
as having a powerful bearing on the part of the 
wronged husband to demand such a separation. Mrs. 
Forrest, in the absence of her husband, was in the 
habit of keeping open house, and several of her friends 
were in the habit of staying late at night. Among 
these, were Capt. Calcraft and young Richard Willis. 
These two, according to a witness, "remained in the 
house till two or three o clock in the morning." The 
same witness stated " that in the fall of the year 1848, 



360 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

Mr. Kichard Willis was secreted in the house for three 
days." 

Mr. James Lawson, in his evidence at the trial, 
wherein he stated that he endeavored to reconcile the 
parties, said : " I first became acquainted with Edwin 
Forrest in the fall of 1826, and ever since I have been 
on terms of the closest intimacy with him. I have 
known Mrs. Forrest, wife of said Edwin Forrest, since 
the first day of her arrival in this country, namely, in 
the fall of 1837. 

" Until the month of January, 1849, I always 
thought and believed that the said Edwin Forrest and 
his wife lived on terms of kindness and affection. Mr. 
Forrest always treated his wife with great tenderness. 
In the said month of January, I first heard from Mrs. 
Forrest, that a separation between her and her hus 
band was resolved on ; about the last of April fol 
lowing, they parted. 

" In my interview with Mrs. Forrest, endeavoring 
to obtain concessions which I thought important to 
bring about a reconciliation with Mr. Forrest, she said : 
You are working in the dark ; you do not know what 
you are striving at; for it is an impossibility that 
Mr. Forrest and I can ever live together as man and 
wife/ * * On or about the second of November 
last, when at an interview, Mrs. Forrest had consented 
to send her sister (Mrs. Voorhees), from her house in 
Sixteenth Street which I thought a necessary step 
before the question touching the reconciliation could 
be put to Mr. Forrest I asked Mrs. Forrest: Now, 
since we have come to this point, pray tell me who was 
wrong in that unknown cause which separated you. 
I do not ask the cause; for that, you say, is never 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 361 

to be told. But, Avho was wrong ? Mrs. Forrest an 
swered ; I was/ To this I remarked : I am glad to 
hear you say so ; for confession is the first step to re 
pentance/ " etc. 

To which we annex the sworn statement of the 
Rev. E. L. Magoon : 

Elias Lyman Magoon, of the city of New York, 
being duly sworn and examined, said : " I am a minis 
ter of the Baptist Church ; I have been acquainted with 
Edwin Forrest and Catharine his wife, for about twelve 
years, and I have heretofore supposed them both 
eminently worthy of my highest personal esteem ; I 
first became acquainted with the said Edwin Forrest 
and wife at Richmond, in the State of Virginia, where 
I then resided ; afterwards I removed to Cincinnati, 
Ohio, and there resided until I removed again to this 
city. 

" During this time, I have met Mr. Forrest and his 
wife at Richmond, Cincinnati, in London, Paris, and 
at his house in this city, and always on terms of per 
sonal intercourse and intimacy ; until recently, and 
within about a year past, I have been accustomed to 
hear nothing from said Edwin Forrest and wife but ex 
pressions of mutual confidence, and to see nothing be 
tween them but indications of mutual love ; some time 
in or about the month of December. 1849, the said 
Catharine Forrest told me that for several months pre 
vious to her late separation, she and her husband had 
known each other only as brother and sister." 

Mr. Forrest gave no explanation to his friends, di 
rectly or indirectly, as to the cause of separation of 
himself and wife, and would hold no converse whatever 
on the subject. Subsequently, however, when Mrs. 



362 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

Forrest began to give her reasons, or rather, as she 
said, cause of separation, Mr. Forrest said to a friend, 
in December, 1849, that the real cause of the separa 
tion of himself and wife was his conviction of her in 
fidelity! On December 24th, 1849, Mr. Forrest de 
termined to end the unpleasant position in which he 
was placed, and give the public the true cause of the 
separation preparatory to which he sent to Mrs. For 
rest the following letter, as found in the testimony of 
the "Forrest Divorce Case" before the Senate and 
House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania. 

LETTER OF EDWIN FORREST TO MRS. FORREST. 

" I am compelled to address you by reports and rumors 
that reach me from every side, and which a due respect 
for my own character compels me not to disregard. You 
cannot forget that, before we parted, you obtained from me 
a solemn pledge that I would say nothing of the guilty 
cause the guilt alone on your part not on mine which 
led to our separation. You cannot forget that, at the same 
time, you also pledged yourself to a like silence a silence 
which I supposed you would be glad to have preserved. 
But I understand from various sources, and in ways that 
cannot deceive me, that you have repeatedly disregarded 
that promise, and are constantly assigning false reasons for 
our separation, and making statements in regard to it, in 
tended and calculated to exonerate yourself, and to throw 
the whole blame on me, and necessarily to alienate from 
me the respect and attachment of the friends I have left 
to me. Is this a fitting return for the kindness I have 
ever shown you? Is this your gratitude to one who, 
though aware of your guilt, and most deeply wronged, has 
endeavored to shield you from the scorn and contempt of 
the world. The evidence of your guilt, you know, is in 
my possession. I took that evidence from among your 
papers, and I have your own acknowledgment by whom 
it was written, and that the infamous letter was addressed 
to you. You know, as well as I do, that the cause of my 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 363 

leaving you was the conviction of your infidelity. I have 
paid enough to make the object of this letter apparent. I 
am content that the past shall remain in silence, but I do 
not intend, nor will I permit, that either you or any one 
connected with you shall ascribe our separation to my mis 
conduct. I desire you, therefore, to let me know at once 
whether you have, by your own assertions, or by sanction 
ing those of others, endeavored to throw the blame of our 
miserable position on me. My future conduct will depend 
upon your reply. " Once yours, 

"[Signed] " EDWLN FORREST. 

"New York, December, 24th, 1849." 



CHAPTEK XXXIII. 

MRS. FORREST S LETTER. REPLY. THE CONSUELO LET 
TER. SKETCH OF GEORGE JAMIESON. HIS FEAR 
FUL DEATH. RETRIBUTION ! 

IN the last chapter we gave Mr. Forrest s letter ad 
dressed to his wife. We now give the lady s an 
swer. We would observe here, that the lady s letters 
are generally written in a style of elegance, simplicity, 
and apparent innocence, that no one who reads them 
but regrets the cause that led to their publicity : 

MRS. FORREST S ANSWER. 

"I hasten to answer the letter Mr. Stevens has just 
left with me, with the utmost alacrity, as it affords me at 
least the melancholy satisfaction of correcting misstate- 
ments, and of assuring you that the various rumors and 
reports which have reached you are false. 

" You say that you have been told, that I am con 
stantly assigning false reasons for our separation, and 
making statements in regard to it, intended and calculated 



364 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

to exonerate myself, and to throw the whole blame on 
you ; this I beg most distinctly to state is utterly untrue. 

"I have, when asked the cause of our sad differences, 
invariably replied, that was a matter known only to our 
selves, and which would never be explained; and I neither 
acknowledge the right of the world, nor of our most inti 
mate friends to question our conduct in this aifair. 

"You say, I desire you therefore to let me know at 
once whether you have by your own assertions, or by sanc 
tioning those of others, endeavored to throw the blame of 
our miserable position on me. I most solemnly assert 
that I have never done so, directly or indirectly; nor has 
any one connected with me ever made such assertions with 
my knowledge ; nor have I ever permitted any one to speak 
of you in my presence with censure or disrespect. I am 
glad you have enabled me to reply directly to yourself 
concerning this, as it must be evident to you that we are 
both in a position to be misrepresented to each other; but 
I cannot help adding, that the tone of your letter wounds 
me deeply; a few months ago you would not have written 
thus. But in this neither do I blame you; but those who 
have for their own motives poisoned your mind against me 
this is surely an unnecessary addition to my sufferings; 
but while I suffer I feel the strong conviction that some 
day, perhaps one so distant that it may no longer be pos 
sible for us to meet on this earth, your own naturally 
noble and just mind will do me justice, and that you will 
believe in the affection which for twelve years has never 
swerved from you. I cannot nor would I endeavor to 
subscribe myself other than 

" Yours, now and ever, 
"[Signed] "CATHARINE N. FORREST. 

"Dec. 24th, 1849." 

Mr. Forrest never alluded to his wife or cause of 
separation, after the amicable settlement alluded to. 
Mr. Andrew Stevens, in his evidence, stated that 
"during the summer of the year 1849, I was in the 
habit of spending my Sundays with Mr. Forrest, but 
he made no explanation, directly or indirectly, as to 
the cause of the separation of himself and his wife, and 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 365 

would hold no conversation whatever on the subject 
with me. I remained in absolute ignorance, so far as 
the said Forrest was concerned, of the true cause of the 
difficulty between himself and his said wife." 

In a second letter Mrs. Forrest sent, as given in 
Schedule B, she went more into detail. In one part 
she said : " You know as well as I do that there can 
be nothing in my conduct to justify those gross and 
unexpected charges; and I cannot think why you 
should now seem to consider a foolish and anonymous 
letter as an evidence of guilt." 

Mrs. Forrest closed up this letter in the following 
feeling manner : 

" I cannot believe it, and implore you, Edwin, for God s 
sake, to trust to your own better judgment; and as I am 
certain that your heart will tell you I could not seek to 
injure you, so likewise, I am sure, your future will not be 
brighter if you succeed in crushing me more completely, 
in casting disgrace upon one who has known no higher 
pride than the right of calling herself your wife. 

" [Signed] "CATHARINE N. FORREST. 

"Dec. 29th, 1849." 

This is Mr. Forrest s answer to Mrs. Forrest s let 
ter, marked B: 

" I answer your letter dated the 29th, and received by 
me on the 31st ultimo, solely to prevent my silence from 
being misunderstood. 

""Mr. Godwin has told me that the tardy reply to the 
most material part of mine of the 24th, was sent by his 
advice. I should indeed think from its whole tone and 
character that it was written under instructions. I do 
not desire to use harsh epithets or severe language to you. 
It can do no good. But you compel me to say that all the 
important parts of yours are utterly untrue. It is utterly 
untrue that the accusations I now bring against you are 
( new. It is utterly untrue that since the discovery of that 
infamous letter, which you so callously call foolish, I have 



366 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

ever in any way expressed my belief of your freedom from 
guilt. I could not have done so, and you know that I have 
not done it. But I cannot carry on a correspondence of 
this kind. I have no desire to injure or to crush you; 
the fatal wrong has been done to me, and I only wish to 
put a final termination to a state of things which has de 
stroyed my peace of mind, and which is wearing out my 
life. "[Signed] " EDWIN" FORREST. 

"New York,^ Jan. 2nd, 1850." 

As this letter closed all correspondence between the 
parties, and terminated their private arrangements, 
and resulted in a trial in open court to prove charges 
made against the lady too gross for publication, we 
dismiss the whole subject the worst of scandals, and 
give the celebrated Consuelo letter, the first cause of 
Mr. Forrest s suspicions of his wife s infidelity. We 
leave it to any husband any high-minded man to 
Bay, if finding such a letter in the possession of his 
wife, whether it would not create serious cause for sus 
picion ; this letter speaks for itself, and so we end this 
sad episode in our Keminiscences : 

LETTER OF MR. JAMIESON TO MRS. FORREST. 

" And now, sweetest Consuelo, our brief dream is over 
and such a dream! Have we not known real bliss? 
Have we not realized what poets love to set up as an ideal 
state, giving full license to their imagination, scarcely believ 
ing in its reality? Have we not experienced the truth 
that ecstasy is not a fiction ? I have, and as I will not per 
mit myself to doubt yovi, am certain you have. And oh ! 
what an additional delight to think no, to know, that I 
have made some hours happy to you. Yes, and that re 
membrance of me may lighten the heavy time of many an 
hour to come. Yes, our little dream of great account is 
over, reality stares us in the face. Let us peruse its fea 
tures. Look with me, and read as I do, and you will find 
our dream is not all a dream. Can reality take from us 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 367 

when she separates and exiles us from "each other ? Can 
she divide our souls our spirits ? Can Slander s tongue 
or Humor s trumpet summon us to a parley with ourselves, 
where to doubt each other we should hold a council? No! 
no / a doubt of thee can no more find harbor in my brain 
than the opened rose could cease to be the hum-bird s 
harbor. And as my heart and soul are in your possession, 
examine them and you will find no text from which to dis 
course a doubt of me. But you have told me (and oh ! 
what music did your words create upon my grateful ear), 
that you would not doubt me. With these considerations, 
dearest, our separation, though painful, will not be unen 
durable ; and if a sombre hour should intrude itself upon 
you, banish it by knowing there is one who is whispering 
to himself, Consuelo. There is another potent reason why 
you should be happy that is, having been the means of 
another s happiness, for I am happy, and with you to re 
member, and the blissful anticipation of seeing you again, 
shall remain so. I wish I could tell you my happiness. I 
cannot. No words have been yet invented that could 
convey an idea^of the depth of that passion, composed of 
pride, admiration, awe, gratitude, veneration and love, 
without being earthy, that I feel for you. 

" Be happy, dearest ; write to me and tell me you are 
happy. Think of the time when we shall meet again. 
Believe that I shall do my utmost to be worthy of your 
love : and now, God bless you, a thousand times my own, 
my heart s altar. 

" I would say more, but must stow away my shreds and 
tinsel patches ugh ! how hideous they look after thinking 
of you. 



" Adieu ! adieu ! and when thou art gone, 
My joy shall be made up alone, 
Of calling back with fancy s charm, 
Those halcyon hours when in my arm, 

Clasp d Consuelo. 



" Adieu 1 adieu ! be thine each joy, 
That earth can yield without alloy, 
Shall be the earnest constant pray r 
Of him who in his heart shall wear, 

But Consuelo. 



368 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

" Adieu ! adieu ! when next we meet, 
Will not all sadness then retreat, 
And yield the conquer d time to bliss, 
And seal the triumph with a kiss, 

Say, Consuelo ? * 



We have said this trial ended the sad episode in 
the life of Mr. Forrest ; but, alas ! not its conse 
quences. The verdict was rendered by the jury on the 
24th of January, 1852, adding thereto : " and that the 
alimony to be allowed to the said plaintiff shall be 
three thousand dollars per year." Perhaps, this side of 
Hades, no such verdict was ever rendered ; the defend 
ant was actually found guilty of the very charges 
brought against the plaintiff, she was found not guilty 
of adultery in the fifth question in the specification, 
and the defendant was so declared on the first and third 
to have been the guilty party ! 

In heathen mythology it is said there are judges in 
hell who hold court in the tribunal opposite the en 
trance of the infernal regions ; on it were seated Minos, 
Khadamanthus and jEacus. The imagination, without 
any extraordinary degree of extravagance, could readily 
transfer this Court of Judges to New York, and invest 
the presiding officers of an earthly tribunal with those 
of Tartarus. 

Mr. Forrest appealed from this decision, and used 
every effort to defeat the order of the court ; appealed 
to higher courts, and failed ; a final verdict compelled 
him to pay the full amount, and to her allowance as 
alimony one thousand dollars more, making in all an 
annual income of four thousand dollars ! This amount 
was faithfully paid up to the day of his death, and 
which the executors still continue to pay. What will 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 3(J9 

be the result of Mrs. Forrest s future claim upon his 
property can only be decided by the courts. 

GEORGE JAMIESON. 

As this individual s name is mixed up in the For 
rest Divorce Case, as one who took a leading part in 
destroying the peace and happiness of the man who had 
been his friend loaned him money, and befriended him 
every way something of his history may not be out of 
place here. We knew this man Jamieson; he was 
what we should call a bon-vivant, fond of good living 
and drinking at the expense of others. He was, how 
ever, a first-class boon companion. We were at a pri 
vate dinner given in New Orleans to a favorite come 
dian. Jamieson was present. He was the life of the 
company gave imitations of actors, sung comic songs, 
imitated the negro minstrels ; in fact, delighted and 
amused all who were present. The next night he 
played Macbeth in a manner that surprised those who, 
on the evening previous, were amused at his comic 
alities. 

George Jamieson was born in New York, in 1812, 
and made his debut in his native city, January 23rd, 
1837, in a farce called The Chameleon, in which he per 
sonated five characters. It was on the occasion of the 
benefit of Charles Eaton, at that time a young trage 
dian. In 1839, he became a member of the National 
Theatre, at the corner of Church and Leonard Streets, 
New York. He first appeared in Philadelphia, Octo 
ber 9th, 1840, at the National Theatre. In 1861 he 
visited England. Returning to this country, he ap 
peared with much success at the Winter Garden Thea 
tre, New York, as Pete, in the Octoroon. Jamieson 
23 



370 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

was well known in the dramatic profession unreliable, 
careless, and regardless of the proprieties of dramatic, 
social, or moral life. He met with a sudden and awful 
death, October 3rd, 1868, near Yonkers, by being run 
over by a Hudson Kiver Eailroad train. Was it 
retribution ? 

" Where be your jibes now ? your gambols ? your 
Songs ? your flashes of merriment, that were 
Wont to set the table in a roar ? " 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

AFTER THE TRIAL. HIS APPEARANCE AT THE BROAD 
WAY THEATRE. RECEPTION. SPEECH. FIRST AP 
PEARANCE OF MRS. CATHARINE N. SINCLAIR (FOR 
REST) AS AN ACTRESS. AN OLD PLAY-BILL. UN 
JUST CRITICISM. MR. FORREST AS AN ARTIST. 

~A/TR. FORKEST was not idle during the progress 
-*^-L of the trial, he was fulfilling his engagements in 
various portions of the country, and found friends and 
sympathizers everywhere. 

The Broadway Theatre, New York, under the man 
agement of Mr. Marshall, with Thomas Barry, formerly 
of the Park, for stage manager, re-opened on the 27th 
of August, 1851, with an excellent company. 

On the 15th of September, 1851, Mr. Forrest made 
his first appearance in two years, at that theatre, as 
Damon, and his last on the 27th, as Spartacus. These 
two characters were always received by the audience 
with much applause, and were considered the most 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 371 

striking pictures of the histrionic art that were ever 
presented on the stage. We have already alluded to 
them in former parts of these Reminiscences. We now 
come to another very important era in the life of Mr. 
Forrest ; it is his first appearance after the termination 
of his divorce suit, January 24th, 1852. 

In despite of the verdict, and all the evidence pro 
duced on the trial against him, there were but few who 
placed implicit confidence in that to which some of the 
witnesses swore. Indeed, the same may be said of 
those who gave evidence against the lady. Public 
opinion was about equally divided, and each had the 
benefit of the doubt. 

February 9th, 1852, he commenced as Damon. 
This engagement lasted sixty-nine consecutive nights, 
during which time the houses were crowded. On his 
entrance, the first night, bouquets were showered upon 
the stage. Small American flags were thrown, and, 
mingling with the flowers, made the whole scene 
appear as a garden. A large flag was also displayed 
in the parquette, with this motto : " This is our 
verdict 1 " 

Mr. Forrest was called before the curtain and made 
a brief speech, as pensive as it was effective ; he made 
no allusion to the past, but he spoke of the drama, and 
its future prospects, cherished as it would be by such 
intelligence as evidently was now maturing the sensa 
tional literature of the day, fostered with care, its 
future destiny could easily be foretold. 

In conclusion he said : " I thought my path was 
covered with thorns, but I find you have strewed it 
with roses." This engagement was the longest, as well 
as the most memorable, ever recorded in the history of 



372 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

the stage. The house one of the largest and most 
magnificent in America was crowded nightly to the 
utmost of its capacity, and with audiences whose 
enthusiasm remained unabated. 

On the fiftieth night of this engagement there was 
a jubilee. The theatre was illuminated in front ; an 
appropriate transparency was exhibited ; many persons 
in the neighborhood, sympathizing with the general 
feeling, illuminated their dwellings. Inside there was 
one continued triumph for the great actor, while the 
street was crowded by admiring thousands, who could 
not gain admittance. 

Before Mr. Forrest again appeared at the " Broad 
way," another event took place, which possessed a de 
gree of interest almost equal to that of the one given. 
It was the first appearance of Mrs. Catharine N. Sin 
clair on any stage, the 22nd of February, 1852, at 
Brougham s Lyceum, New York, as Lady Teazle, in 
The School for Scandal, with Chippendale, Lynne, 0. 
Mason, Walcott, Brougham, Skerrett, and Mrs. Maeder 
in the cast. Mrs. Sinclair s debut was a triumphant 
one, and her performance of Lady Teazle attracted full 
audiences for eight successive nights. She subse 
quently appeared as Pauline, Margaret Elmore, Lady 
Mabel and Beatrice, but without a corresponding suc 
cess. Had she sustained these several characters as 
well as she did that of Lady Teazle, there is not the 
least doubt that she would have been a leading actress, 
if not a star, on the American stage. The propriety of 
her appearance on the stage, at this critical juncture, 
was very generally questioned. Mr. George Vanden- 
hoff, who had been her instructor, appeared on the 
23rd ; as Claude Melnotte. Her engagement was not 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 373 

what might be termed a profitable one. The season 
ended abruptly on the 17th of March. 

The Broadway Theatre reopened on the 30th of 
August, 1852, with the play of The Hunchback. On 
the 20th of September, Mr. Edwin Forrest appeared 
as Richelieu ; on the 21st, as Damon ; closing on the 
30th of October. After playing at Philadelphia and 
elsewhere, Mr. Forrest returned to New York, and 
commenced another engagement at the Broadway 
Theatre, February 24th, 1853, opening with Othello. 
During this splendid engagement the manager pro 
duced Macbeth, May 2nd, 1853, with new scenery and 
dresses, at a cost of $8.000, taking rank with Charles 
Kean s getting up of King John and Richard III. 
This was played twenty nights in succession. We 
give the cast as played on that occasion -as worthy a 
place in the records of our stage history. 

MACBETH MB. FORREST. 

MACDUFF F. CON WAT. 

DUNCAN MR. DUFF. 

MALCOLM A. DAVENPORT. 

BANQUO C. POPE. 

HECATE MR. GROSVENOR. 

WITCHES DAVIDQE, WHITING AND BARRY. 

LADY MACBETH... ...MRS. PONISI. 



In connection with this cast, we will give that of 
its first performance in this country, March 3rd, 1767 : 

MACBETH MR. HALLAM. 

DUNCAN MR. GRENVILLE. 

MACDUFF MR. DOUGLAS. 

MALCOLM MR. HENRY. 

BANQUO MR. MORRIS. 

HECATE MR. WOOLS. 

LADY MACBETH Miss CHEER. 

LADY MACDUFF MRS. DOUGLASS. 

The names in this cast are among the pioneers of 



374 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

the drama in this country; they are all familiar to 
those who take an interest in our early stage history. 

The scene of Mr. Forrest s great success was the 
Broadway Theatre. Whenever his name was an 
nounced, it was the precursor to crowded houses. 
On the 17th of April, 1854, he commenced another 
long engagement, during which his Virginius won 
golden opinions from all sorts of people. 

Shortly after Mr. Forrest s first appearance after 
the "divorce," certain would-be critics made some 
wonderful discoveries in his style of acting, intimating 
also that his readings of certain passages in the plays 
of Shakespeare were so emphasized as to convey allu 
sions to his wife, or, at least, to show his opinion of 
women generally. These absurd constructions became 
marked features by those who are too apt to follow 
the opinions of others, rather than adopt those of 
their own. Not only this, they also made the discovery 
that Mr. Forrest was not the great actor that fame 
had heralded. He was accused of being merely a phys 
ical actor " a vast animal bewildered by a little 
grain of genius," " a muscular tragedian of body 
without brains." Such language, uttered at a time 
when the fame of the great actor was ringing in the 
ear of nations, it assumed the tone of personal en 
mity, rather than that of criticism. With us, how 
ever, criticism had not attained the certainty and 
stability of science. With such low expletives, as 
given above, was Mr. Forrest greeted on his reap 
pearance, and by whom ? A few hirelings of the 
press, whose ideas of criticism were based on their 
own imperfect knowledge of this scientific art. They 
ridiculed the dramatic powers of the man whose genius 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 375 

had flashed over two hemispheres the man whose 
voice and action brought back to a London audience 
the echo of those who had made "Old Drury" a classic 
temple the man whose Lear paled the lustre on the 
laurelled brow of a Grarrick. The man whose Othello 
startled an English audience, and as one of their 
most eminent critics said : " The effect was electric, 
and shot through the vast assemblage with a thrill 
of terror." 

In the art gallery of the stage, Mr. Forrest s splen 
did pictures of Damon, Virginius, Coriolanus, Kichard, 
Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, William Tell, Carwin, 
Lear, Jack Cade, Spartacus, Kichelieu, and others, 
will always be referred to as the highest specimens 
of histrionic talent. 

With the stage, its character and its literature, 
the name and fame of Edwin Forrest are closely con 
nected. It is not altogether a national feeling we 
have upon the subject, it is one that is sustained by 
the most accomplished critics in this country and in 
Europe, which induced us at an early period to speak 
of Mr. Forrest s acting as being superior to that of 
many who, with far less genius, elicited fulsome 
praise from the uninformed. True criticism is the 
proper estimate made of the works of art and of 
letters ; it brings with it a warmth of feeling which, 
genial-like, makes true merit blossom in the sunshine 
it throws around it. It is the rain to give life and 
vitality to the early seed, the light to consummate 
its growth. True criticism can effect this ; the false, 
never. Hence, criticism, as it is generally received, 
must, from the very nature of men s souls, be com 
mensurate with the exercise of the judgment. A 



376 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

true critic is one who examines closely his own feel 
ings before he grasps the pen, and by a delicate and 
nice examination, endeavors to discover if his judg 
ment would endorse the motions caused by the ac 
tion of the scene and the incidents of the story. 
This is considered the strongest test by which the 
truth of criticism can be tried. It was a critical 
knowledge of nature and of man which enabled 
Homer and Shakespeare to instruct and to astonish. 
Few critics in modern times have been enabled to 
do anything of the kind; hence, we have no standard 
of criticism among us. 

Mr. Forrest s acting has seldom been tested by 
the rule of analysis ; men of little minds could never 
comprehend the genius of the actor, nor the truth 
fulness of his art. They had no idea of its being 
an art calculated to refine taste, exalt the mind, and 
depict with a true artist s skill the emotions of the 
heart when following the author through the various 
phases of the passions evoked by the " cunning of 
the scene." Perhaps no one ever imparted so much 
knowledge of the drama to the million than did Mr. 
Forrest, and no one ever studied harder to attain 
the power to do so. That he did attain it, his fame 
while living, and the tribute paid to his memory are 
the proofs. 

" No pyramids set off his memory, 
But the eternal substance of his greatness 
To which I leave him." 

We have alluded to certain criticisms on Mr. For 
rest s acting as being of an extremely low order of 
that art. Caricature an artist, and you insult art; 
hold up the learned man as a target for folly to fire 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 377 

at, and you mislead the ignorant in regard to the 
source of education. True art is a very delicate 
subject for the uninformed to write about, it is be 
yond their reach. Can they follow it through fields 
of air or criticise one 

" Who writes his name on clouds, 
And treads the chambers of the sky ? " 

or follow genius 

" In his eagle flight, 
Rich dew drops sparkling from his plumes of light f n 

We think not. 

The stage and the drama, identified with all that 
appertains to the arts and sciences, poetry, painting 
and music, command the respect of all who value 
and can appreciate, not only the "best words of 
the best authors," but all those pleasing auxiliaries 
we have named. 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

COMPLIMENTARY BENEFIT TO JAMES W. WALLACE. 

MR. FORREST AS CLAUDE MELNOTTE. THE ORIGI 
NAL IN THE CHARACTER. CAST. RETIRES TO 

PRIVATE LIFE. HOME ON BROAD STREET. THE 

POOR SOLDIER. FORREST S LIBERALITY. RENEWS 
HIS PROFESSION. GREAT SUCCESS IN SHAKES- 
PERIAN CHARACTERS. 

MR. FORREST S reputation was now at its 
height ; he was acknowledged the greatest 
actor living. Every engagement was a perfect ova- 



378 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

tion ; he not only mastered all the difficulties of texts, 
annotations and criticisms upon Shakespeare, but over 
came the prejudices of those who had for years re 
pudiated native talent. This was his final triumph. 
From his first reappearance on the stage after the 
divorce, up to the year 1854, his career was a brilliant 
one ; he was emphatically the star of the " Mimic 
World/ It would be but a repetition of what we 
have already said were we to follow him from place to 
place, and quote the note of praise accompanying his 
every movement. One event occurred during his 
engagement in New York, to which we refer with 
pleasure. 

On the 29th of May, 1855, a complimentary bene 
fit was given to James W. Wallack, Sr. This event 
came off at the Academy of Music, on which occasion 
Mr. Forrest deviated from a course he had strictly 
followed for years, and tendered his valuable services 
to one of the most finished and accomplished actors 
of the day. This was partly in return for the kind 
ness and attention that gentleman showed him while 
in England, and that, too, at a time when friends 
were most needed. For this, and also for the neces 
sities of the veteran actor, he broke through a rule 
which on several occasions he was highly censured for 
adhering to so strictly. Among the names of those 
who also volunteered on that occasion, were Mr. E. L. 
Davenport, Mr. F. Conway, Mr. Walcott, Mr. Henry 
Hall, Mr. Borani, Miss Louisa Pyne, Miss Fanny Yin- 
ing, Mrs. F. Conway, Mrs. Buckland, Miss Kate Reig- 
nolds ; and others volunteered, whose services could 
not be made available. The play was Damon and 
Pythias Forrest as Damon, and Davenport as Pythias. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 379 

On the 27th of September, 1855, Mr. Forrest 
enacted Claude Melnotte, a character we thought one 
of the finest of his youthful impersonations. Mr. For 
rest was the first Claude Melnotte in this country. 
It was produced at the Park Theatre, on the 14th of 
May, 1838. The popularity of the author, and the 
success of the play in England, and being its first 
representation in this country, attracted a crowded 
house. The cast was perfect in every respect : 

CLAUDE MELNOTTE MR. FORREST. 

COL. DUMAS MR. PLACIDE. 

BEAUSEANT MR. RICHINGS. 

GLAVIS MR. WIIEATLEY. 

DESCHAPELLE MR. CLARKE. 

MME. DESCHAPELLE MRS. WHEATLEY. 

PAULINE MRS. RICHARDSON. 

WIDOW MELNOTTE Miss CHARLOTTE CUSHMAN. 

Placide, Eichings, Wheatley, and Mrs. Kichardson 
had parts peculiarly adapted to the several styles in 
which they had excelled, while Miss Cushman s talents 
raised an insignificent character to an interesting 
and prominent position. We have witnessed the rep 
resentation of this play in almost every city in the 
Union, in many of them with most excellent casts, but 
never saw any one to approach the Claude of Mr. For 
rest, or a lady to equal Miss Cushman, as the Widow. 
Mr. Francis Courtly Wemyss, in his " Twenty-Six 
Years of the Life of an Actor and Manager," says : 
" On the 18th of May, 1838, Bulwer s play of < The 
Lady of Lyons/ was acted for the first in the United 
States , at Pittsburg, Pa., for my benefit. Mrs. Shaw, 
as Pauline. Then it was a failure, for on a subsequent 
representation, the proceeds of the house were only 
$126." 

In the year 1855, Mr. Forrest purchased the hand- 



380 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

some brown stone mansion, at the south-west corner of 
Broad and Master Streets, Philadelphia, which has 
since been his home, and for a while he retired from the 
stage. This property originally belonged to Frederick 
Gaul, Esq., the eminent brewer, and was not quite 
finished when Mr. Forrest purchased it. It has an 
extensive garden, in which tall, stately trees and weep 
ing willows vied with the flower beds for supremacy. 
Mr. Forrest paid more attention to the trees than he 
did to the flowers. He cultivated the grape, and 
erected a hot house for their especial growth. Speak 
ing to him one day about the garden, we asked why 
he did not pay more attention to the beautifying of it 
by arranging the flower-beds in accordance to the 
modern poetical arrangements, for there is poetry in 
them ; why not illustrate it ? 

"Because," he replied, "I prefer the trees ; I love 
to hear the wind whistling through their branches, and 
when alone in my library, it sounds like a voice from 
another world." 

Subsequently Mr. Forrest purchased two adjoining 
lots, which he used as a vegetable garden. After the 
war, he gave a one-armed soldier the sole use of this 
lot. We have seen him working in it, planting and 
cultivating the growth of cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes, 
beans, peas ; in fact everything that is required for the 
table for either rich or poor. All the profit arising 
from the production of this lot went to the sole use of 
the maimed soldier and his family. We said to him 
one day : 

" What is the value of this lot the one used by 
the old soldier ? " 

" Well, I don t exactly know." 



LIFE OP EDWIN FOKREST. 381 

" Suppose/ we observed, " we say $25,000." 

"Well, what then?" 

"Simply this; the man is occupying a piece of 
ground for a vegetable garden, the interest of which, if 
sold, would bring you in fifteen hundred dollars per 
annum." 

" True, but as I never intend to sell it while living, 
what matters it ; he may as well have the use of it, as 
the other portion of my ground is sufficiently large for 
my purpose." 

Few rich men ever did as much for an old soldier 
as Mr. Forrest did for this one. 

His front on Broad Street was one hundred and 
ninety-eight feet, depth two hundred feet, the house 
and picture gallery occupying one hundred feet of the 
front, and there was an iron railing extending the 
length of the balance, in front of the garden, thus giv 
ing to passers-by a full view of the interior. We one 
day asked him why he put up the stone wall inside of 
the railing, thus giving to the exterior a prison-like ap 
pearance. His answer was but not until he laughed 
heartily as a sort of prelude " One day," said he, "I 
was in the garden, having on an old hat and light linen 
coat, which extended almost down to my feet, work 
ing away, with my back toward the street : I heard a 
sound, a sort of murmur ; I paid no attention to it, 
however, when suddenly a shrill, boyish voice shouted 
out, There he is ; and then another, more manly, ex 
claimed, i It is Kichelieu. I turned suddenly round, 
and to my utter astonishment saw the whole length of 
the iron railing lined with a gaping crowd, some 
shouting Macbeth, Holla, Kichard, and the devil knows 
what ; and as I rushed into the house the sounds fol- 



382 LIFE OF EDWIN FO^KEST. 

lowed me. That, sir, is the reason why I put up that 
wall." 

During Mr. Forrest s retirement, numerous inquiries 
were made when it was likely he would again appear. 
In answer to them, we published the following : 



TO CORRESPONDENTS. EDWIN FORREST. 



" The question is so frequently asked in relation to the 
probability of this gentleman s appearing again on the 
stage, that we feel it a duty to answer such questions to 
the best of our knowledge, as we know it is not an idle 
curiosity which prompts them. 

" These inquiries, written in many instances by persons 
evidently anxious to witness his powerful impersonation of 
character, are highly flattering to this inimitable artist. 
They also develop to us the fact that thousands are so 
sickened, and, in some instances, disgusted at the present 
state of the drama, and the paucity of genuine talent in 
our midst, that a change for the benefit of the whole body 
politic is most anxiously desired. 

" To end the anxiety manifested, we can state, with 
confidence, that Mr. Forrest will appear on the stage 
again, and this event, so long looked for will most pro 
bably take place in the fall or winter season of the present 
year, June, 1860." 

In the year 1860, he accepted a very tempting 
offer made by James M. Nixon, to perform one hundred 
nights (three nights each week) in the principal cities 
of the Union, Mr. Forrest receiving a clear-half of the 
nightly receipts. He opened on the 17th of September, 
1860, at Niblo s Garden, as Hamlet. In 1861, Mr. 
Nixon engaged the Academy of Music, in Philadelphia, 
with Mr. Forrest as the star, and, as on the occasion of 
his New York engagement, seats were sold at auction. 
This was one of the most brilliant engagements ever 
performed by Mr. Forrest in his native city, during 
which he won golden opinions from all sorts of people, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 383 

and, with but two exceptions, elicited the warmest en 
comiums from the press. This engagement closed 
on Monday, January 13th, 1862, with Othello. In 
consequence of the great success attending Mr. For 
rest s impersonation of Shakesperian characters, the 
manager a few nights before the close, issued the fol 
lowing card: 

" From the decided preference given by the public to 
Mr. Forrest s Shakesperian impersonations, the manager 
has determined, for the few remaining nights, that none but 
Shakespeare s plays will be produced." 

This was a compliment paid alike to the author 
and the actor. The success attending this engagement 
with Mr. Nixon, was unparalleled in the history of the 
American stage. 

Having concluded his engagement with Mr. Nixon, 
Mr. Forrest commenced a short one with Mr. William 
Wheatley, at the Chestnut Street Theatre, commenc 
ing January 26th, 1863, with Virginius, on which 
occasion Mr. Wheatley being called out, made the fol 
lowing speech: 

"If fortune does help the bold as the Roman proverb 
says, and the old English one, Resolution and success are 
cater cousins, has any thing in it, then indeed do I feel 
certain that my honest ambition cannot and shall not be 
belied by my failure. Indeed, it seems to me that the blind 
goddess of the wheel and money bags, was in one of her 
most loving moods, since she enables me to commence my 
season in conjunction with the most powerful attraction 
as an artist, that could be found in this country nay ! by 
the world. You are of course aware that I am now al 
luding to Mr. Edwin Forrest!" 

In consequence of the universal desire to obtain 



384 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

seats on the occasion, tickets were sold by auction at 
high premiums from the auctioneer s rostrum. 

During this engagement, Mr. Forrest produced Dr. 
Bird s celebrated play of The Broker of Bogota ; 
speaking of which, he said " Mr. William Wheatley s 
impersonation of Antonio de Cabero was one of the 
most finished pieces of acting I ever witnessed. The 
applause of the audience was equally divided ; he re 
ceiving, I really believe, the greater share/ 

After fulfilling this engagement, Mr. Forrest again 
appeared at the Academy of Music, Mr. J. T. Ford, 
manager. The success attending this engagement was 
not so good, owing to the paucity of talent in the 
company. 

Mr. Forrest continued playing throughout the coun 
try from this period, up to 1866, when he made his 
great tour to California, opening at San Francisco, 
at the Opera House, as Richelieu. Prior to his de 
parture to the Pacific coast, he played an engagement 
at Chicago, Illinois, for five nights, to immense houses ; 
the whole proceeds yielding $11,600 one night s per 
formance alone being over $2,800 ! 

Passing over the intervening years, we come to his 
last great engagement, commencing in Philadelphia, at 
the Walnut Street Theatre, October 2nd, 1871. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 



MENTAL AND PHYSICAL LABOR. FORREST S ENERGY. 
- GREAT WESTERN AND SOUTHERN TOUR CONTEM 
PLATED. PREPARES HIMSELF FOR THE TASK. 
STARTS FROM PHILADELPHIA. COLUMBUS. - CIN 
CINNATI. OHIO. 



who have been used to a career of compar- 
-- ative idleness, can never know how men of busy 
lives seek for employment ; and those whose days have 
been spent in constant labor from their youth up, can 
not bear sudden and entire cessation without great 
suffering. Time is a dismal void to them. Young 
says, "Time destroyed, is suicide, where more than 
blood is spilt." The muscles and brain crack with 
rust, and man falls into the "sere and yellow leaf" 
before his time. How thoroughly Mr. Forrest appre 
ciated this, can be seen by a glance at his professional 
career. From October 2nd, 1871 being then in the 
sixty-fifth year of his age up to the 18th of March, 
1872, he acted in fifty-one different towns and cities, 
playing five nights a week, performing one hundred 
and twenty-one nights ; and in that time travelled not 
far from seven thousand miles ; and in this campaign, 
accompanied by his able and efficient agent, Joseph 
McArdle, Esq., they suffered all the fearful calamities 
of railroad and steamboat disasters, putting up most 
of the time in hotels barren of ordinary comforts and 
24 (385) 



386 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

convenience. The amount of vitality demanded in the 
representation of the characters acted by Mr. Forrest 
during the last campaign of his professional life was 
enormous. 

Now let us contrast the present custom with an 
earlier epoch in the history of the drama. Formerly, 
the theatres were opened but three nights a week ; then 
the actors had time for study and duly to rehearse 
their parts. Now they are called upon for eight per 
formances a week, including matinees; and, in some 
instances in the South, they are asked to perform on 
Sunday evenings. When John P. Kemble took his fare 
well of the stage, he acted but fifty-four nights during 
the whole season, which lasted from October 25th, 
1816, to June 23rd, 1817, during which time he was 
living quietly in his comfortable home in London. 
Mr. Kemble was then in his sixtieth year. 

David Grarrick never at any time played more than 
one hundred and thirty-eight nights, during any theat 
rical season ; and for the last five years of his profes 
sional life, he acted but fifty-four nights in all, and was 
the manager of the theatre. He, like Kemble, left the 
stage in his sixtieth year. Compare with this, the 
mental and physical labor done by Mr. Forrest, who 
had just passed his sixty-sixth birth-day, and no one 
can dispute his intellectual or physical superiority. He 
one day remarked to an intimate friend, while speaking 
of the demands made upon him in the performance of 
some of Shakespeare s plays : 

" Why, I part with more vitality in one perform 
ance of Lear, than would keep an Alderman alive for 
a lustrum ! " Upon another occasion he said : "I have 
wept more over the wrongs of Lear and Othello, within 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 387 

the last ten years, than I have ever wept before in my 
life." His friend remarked " There was a sadness 
and a pathos in the tones of Forrest s voice as he gave 
utterance to these words, more touching and of deeper 
import than any of his acting I had ever seen." There 
certainly is a charm and music in the low marvellously 
sympathetic tones of Forrest s voice, that bring to our 
mind the criticisms of Hazlitt on Edmund Kean s fare 
well in Othello (which by the way, was one of the 
most beautiful things we ever heard or witnessed on 
the stage) when he compared the voice of that peer 
less actor to the " Sighing of the South wind through 
a Cypress Grove ! " 

It was stated of Thomas A. Cooper, that he visited 
every State in the Union, played in sixty theatres, 
acting four thousand five hundred nights, and travelled 
twenty thousand miles. James H. Caldwell, the great 
Southern manager, unfurled the banner of Thespis in 
thirteen States as proprietor, built four theatres, and 
travelled sixty thousand miles, as actor and manager, 
in thirteen years. From the 15th of May, 1820, to 
the 14th of July, 1821, he performed in the following 
route, travelling with a dramatic corps every mile 
"Washington City, Alexandria, D. C. ; Fredericksburg, 
Richmond, Petersburg, and Norfolk, Virginia ; Charles 
ton, S. C. ; New Orleans, La. ; Natchez, Miss. ; Nash 
ville, Tenn. His annual journey, as given above, when 
completed, amounted to six thousand miles. 

Mr. Forrest, anticipating this great undertaking, 
had, in a measure, prepared himself. He visited the 
most celebrated springs, rested on mountain tops, 
passed over lakes and valleys, sought places having 
legendary and historic interest thus strengthening the 



388 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

body as well as the mind. The pure fresh air from 
the mountains, the salubrious gale that swept across 
the lake, a plunge into the vapor baths of Virginia, all 
contributed to aid and sustain him for the task. 

The love of the profession, the desire to extend the 
legitimate drama, and to gratify the wishes of thou 
sands living in the distant cities South and West, was 
the object of this great dramatic tour. His name, so 
closely identified with our drama, and written in golden 
letters on the histrionic page made it familiar to all, 
New stars had appeared in the " mimic world ;" new 
names been added to the list of great actors, which, for 
a while, elicited criticism, but, lacking the mental glow, 
the mind s light, they have long since passed away in 
meteoric flashes. Forrest s star was in the ascendant, 
and the drama wore it like a jewel on her brow. 
Travelling through sections of our country, where the 
drama, some years ago, had scarcely a local habitation 
and a name, suifering the many privations incident to 
such a journey, Mr. Forrest gave another portion of a 
long and useful life to the cause of the legitimate 
drama, and to the interest of the American stage, fur 
nishing to the many who had read only about plays and 
actors, the evidence of what true art can do in the nine 
teenth century ; made stage illusions a seeming reality 
showed them Lear panoplied in all his majestic 
grandeur a living portrait of Shakespeare s creation ; 
presented to their astonished view the wily Cardinal, 
who ruled France, in the place of a weak king ; drew 
with the power of his genius, Virginius, Damon, Co- 
riolanus, and also the Jealous Moor, and other of 
Shakespeare s great characters, making them startling 
pictures for admiring thousands. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 389 

We will glance slightly over this tour, from its start 
until its close. Alas ! how nearly did that word connect 
itself with that of his own life ? No coming events 
cast their shadows before him in that bright hour of his 
dramatic triumph ; no dark pall resting on some sculp 
tured marble was conjured up to his mental vision; 
and yet these shadows were before him moving on, 
darkening, and closing gradually into eternal night ! 

Mr. Forrest commenced this mapped out engage 
ment at the Walnut Street Theatre, on the second of 
October, 1871. To say it was a success, would be 
simply to repeat what we have already said of his 
other engagements. This engagement closed on the 
16th of October. He then proceeded to Columbus, 
Ohio ; opened there on the 23rd of the same month, and 
thence to Cincinnati, the Athens of the West. When 
Mr. Forrest first appeared in Cincinnati, nearly fifty 
years before, the city, as well as the drama, were in 
their infancy. To him these remembrances must have 
been pleasing. He could look back to the time when 
the boatman s song was heard on the waters of the 
Ohio, and these notes were re-echoed from the forests 
lining its shore : 

" Hard upon the beach oar, 

She moves too slow, 
All the way to Shawneetown, 
Long while ago." 

These scenes and these notes echoing from the 
bluffs of the beautiful Ohio, had a charm for his 
youthful mind which time on its onward course could 
not dispel. Indeed, he often spoke of them as among 
the most pleasing reminiscences of his past life. It is 
not, perhaps, generally known, that Mr. Forrest in- 



390 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

dulged, when alone in his library, writing, or as he said 
" attempting to write poetry," and almost as soon as 
finished, found its way into the waste basket. One 
poem, however, may be found among his papers, de 
scriptive of the scenes alluded to above, which we are 
satisfied never met the fate of the others. It com 
mences with an invocation to nature ; and we could 
almost venture to give the opening lines, but fearful 
of trusting too much to memory, we refrain, lest the 
loss of a word might mar the harmony and rhythm 
of the lines, and thus lessen the claims the great actor 
had to be ranked among our poets. 

Mr. Forrest commenced his engagement in Cin 
cinnati, at Wood s Theatre, October 30th, 1871, as King 
Lear. The editor of the Commercial, speaking of his 
Lear, says : 

" And yet we think the glorious quality of his acting 
has never been surpassed in this city. Forrest still has his 
magnificent voice with its stirring compass ; he has health 
and gnarly strength ; he has his old faculty of intense and 
unflagging concentration ; he has all his wonted power to 
thrill an audience and sway its sympathy; and speaking 
for the enchained spectators of last evening, we can say 
that his delineation of King Lear is a creation to remember 
and to venerate. The picture once seen must hang forever 
among the old masters. A man will sooner rust out than 
wear out, runs the old proverb ; and to a man of Mr. For 
rest s massive mould inaction is hateful. Avarice, the last 
vice of a noble mind, has no place in his motives. He is 
blessed with large wealth, spends it freely for life s com 
forts and refinement, and gives nobly. Ambition cannot 
bestow further rewards; he has long ago secured the 
highest. He stands in the front rank of tragedians. It 
was but a few days ago that he concluded a flattering 
season in Philadelphia, the city of his residence, and he 
has busy engagements extending henceforward until sum 
mer again brings a vacation to all his brother professionals, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 391 

old and young. He continues to act, not for the incitement 
of money, nor the incense for applause, but because he was 
born an actor, and loves art for its inner and loftier re 
wards. Perhaps he thinks it is time enough to retire when 
audiences slip away from his controlling authority. That 
moment has not arrived, and we cannot detect its near 
approach. The career of Edwin Forrest on the stage has 
hardly a parallel for tension of effort and prolonged vitali 
ty, and still it marches on triumphant. The Lear of his 
mellow age is grander than the Gladiator of his early 
prime." 

From Cincinnati he proceeded -to New Orleans, 
and opened there on the 13th of November, 1871. 
From New Orleans, Mr. Forrest proceeded to Galveston, 
Texas, commencing there on December 4th, 1871 ; from 
thence to Houston, opening on the llth ; and from 
thence he started for Nashville, Tennessee, where he 
commenced a splendid engagement on the 18th of De 
cember, 1871. The Union and American, speaking of 
the last night of his engagement, December 23rd, said : 



" Last night closed the engagement of the justly re 
nowned Edwin Forrest, one of America s famous actors, 
and, in many respects, one of the greatest men known in 
his profession throughout the world. It is more than prob 
able that he will never appear again before a Nashville 
audience ; but he has left an impression upon our theatre- 
going public that will be remembered for time to come. 
In years past, Nashville audiences have been favored with 
visits from numerous brilliant lights in the dramatic firma 
ment some of whom might be compared to the momentary 
blaze of a rocket ; or, rather, the flash of a meteor, which is 
only seen when falling, or the Northern lights, which appear 
to flash and flicker in ragged confusion. Not so with 
Forrest. His brilliancy resembles the diamond of genius ; 
and like the constant flood of light which emanates from 
some wildly waving torch, casts broad illumination into 
the dark places of nature. As in the sea shell, long separa- 



392 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

ted from its native sea, there yet lingers, or seems to linger, 
when you apply it to the ear, the "distant and far-off mur 
mur of the main, so, in the recollection of a man of genius, 
like Mr. Forrest, there lingers an echo of that which is 
vast and infinite. There is a language in his face, a mean 
ing in every gesture, and new and striking conceptions 
in every sentence that he utters. 

" In the different characters represented by Mr. Forrest 
during the week, he has made himself simply a looking- 
glass to nature, and has earned a title to the applause of 
all who appreciate true greatness. In his personation of 
Lear, last evening, there was observable the same mellow 
ness that characterized other parts in his role; and it was, 
if anything, more effective, producing the same wrapt 
attention on the part of the audience, who seemed to re 
alize the fact that the voice of genius, though often rugged, 
sometimes wrathful, despairing, is always a cry from its 
own heart. Low, sometimes as the sob of the dying deer, 
and again as loud as the crash and darkness of a thousand 
storms, bursting their inaccessible abodes of crags and 
thunder-clouds. In that vast audience at Masonic Hall 
last night could scarcely be found a single individual who 
was not willing to accord to the distinguished actor the 
highest meed of praise for the truthful and faithful rendi 
tion of Shakespeare s sublime conception, and there were 
many, no doubt, who regretted the close of this season of 
dramatic grandeur." 



CHAPTEK XXXVII. 

KANSAS CITY. FORRESTANIA. ST. LOUIS. HIS GREAT 

SUCCESS. CRITICISMS. A MINISTER CONVERTED 

BY HIS ELOQUENCE. ACCEPTS AN INVITATION TO 
BOSTON. SICKNESS. JAMES OAKES LETTER. RE 



TURN HOME. 



M 



R. FORREST S next engagements were at 
Omaha, Kansas City, St. Joseph s, etc. ; com- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 393 

mencing at the former place, December 25th, 1871. 
The excitement at Omaha, to witness his acting, 
brought people from distant parts of the country, and 
the theatre was crowded. But a few years ago, this 
whole section of country was a wilderness. What 
is it now ? Not only a growing country as regards 
agriculture and commerce, but in the mind s culture. 
In every place his King Lear was received with the 
greatest enthusiasm ; not so much from its being the 
production of Shakespeare, but from the powerful 
acting of Mr. Forrest. He gave a truthful, lifelike 
picture of the old King, which flashed before the 
eyes of his audience as a meteor from the skies, 
and presented one of the most extraordinary efforts 
of genius and dramatic talent that was ever made 
by any actor since the days of Betterton; and we 
have tradition only as an evidence of his superiority 
over all others in this character. During Mr. Forrest s 
engagement at Kansas City, excursions were ran into 
the city upon all the railroads centreing at that 
place, at greatly reduced prices. The New Kiver, 
Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad, brought excursionists 
from Baxter s Springs, a distance of one hundred 
and fifty miles, for three dollars each, the round trip, 
including omnibus fare to and from the depot a 
supper, a hotel, and admission to the Opera House. 
Does history furnish a parallel to this ? 

The following anecdotes were related of Mr. For 
rest during his western tour. We will head the 
article. 

"FORRESTANIA." 

Without doubt, it is a very pleasant thing to 
be famous ; but to have your acquaintance sought 



394 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

by everybody becomes tiresome after a while, and 
the "known to fame" sighs in vain for quietude 
and freedom from the persecution. Probably Edwin 
Forrest never visited a town or city where he was not 
assailed by bores, and because he refused the intru 
sion, was declared discourteous. Some of the more 
persistent had a faculty of presenting themselves, 
upon the first occasion, of catching a glimpse of the 
tragedian. 

" Mr. Forrest, I believe." 

" No, sir ! " invariably interrupted Forrest. " That 
is Mr. Forrest," indicating Mr. McArdle, his business 
manager. 

When Mr. Forrest visited Bloomington, Illinois, 
Dr. Shroeder, the eccentric Teutonic proprietor of 
the opera house, ventilated his opinions in regard to 
the relative merits of Mr. Forrest and McKean Bu 
chanan. 

"McKean Booohanan," said the doctor, "is the 
greatest actor that ever came to Bloomington, and I 
always says to him, Mr. Boochanan, whenever you 
want to come to my opera house, you can have it 
without costing you a cent/ 

"Don t you think," asked Mr. Holland, "that 
Mr. Forrest s Lear is a most wonderful effort ? " 

" Yaw, yaw," answered Shroeder, " Mr. Forrest is 
a pooty good actor, and I liked him foost rate ; but 
when you come right down to hollerin , Forrest 
ain t nowhere." 

The following was spoken of in connection with 
the above : 

" If there is one thing above all others for which 
Mr. Forrest had a great distaste, it was a sea voyage. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 395 

While making the passage to California, a fearful 
storm arose, and among the few who braved its fury 
on deck, were the tragedian and a clergyman. The 
winds shrieked, the waves lashed furiously, and the 
vessel tossed and trembled, while Mr. Forrest vented 
an occasional oath. This greatly shocked the pastor, 
who, clinging to a rope s end to maintain his posi 
tion, turned with the solemn rebuke : 

" Don t you know, sir, our Saviour went to sea 
in a vessel, and a great storm arose ? " 

The vessel gave a great lurch, and the sea thun 
dered over the deck. When the vessel righted and 
regained her course, the great actor turned with 
the response : 

" Yes, so he did ; but when he got tired of it he 
got out and went a-foot. We can t." 

Mr. Forrest s next engagement was at St. Louis, 
where he opened on the 8th of January, 1872, at 

DE BAB S OPERA HOUSE. 

Mr. Forrest s reception in St. Louis was most flat 
tering. His engagement closed on Friday evening, 
January 12th. The editor of the Republican, speak 
ing of it, said: 

" Long before the curtain rose last evening, there was 
not a single vacant seat in the theatre above or below, and 
every inch of available standing room in the aisles and lob 
bies was occupied. We have rarely seen a more splendid 
audience on any occasion than gathered to honor Mr. For 
rest s farewell appearance, and see him in what is, in many 
respects, his noblest character. The public seemed to un 
derstand that this might be the last time they would have 
an opportunity of saluting a famous actor, and that, live as 
long as they might, there was small chance of ever wit 
nessing a greater Lear. 



396 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" And, taking all in all, it was a grand performance 
worthy alike of the subject, and of the reputation of him 
who delivered it. The man who can play Lear as it de 
serves to be played, must not only possess high genius, 
fine taste, and uncommon physical energy, but he must 
have passed into the shadow of age, and endured sharp 
trial and bitter sorrow. Mr. Forrest has all these requi 
sites, and they blend together in an impressive picture 
whose sombre yet powerful colors are stamped upon the 
soul of him who looks thereon. The tremendous grief of 
the crownless king, his awful wrath, his madness, his tears, 
his death all these are drawn with a wonderful vividness 
and reality, which go straight to the heart. We remem 
ber nothing more touching on the stage than the strug 
gles of the poor old man when he feels reason tottering 
npon her throne, and then yielding to the irresistible 
pressure of a mighty woe, sinks into the semi-oblivion of 
harmless lunacy. And in the climax of the closing scene, 
where he bends over the corpse of his daughter, looks into 
her still eyes, presses her pulseless heart, watches for the 
dumb lips to open once more, and then whispers in broken, 
tremulous voice : Cordelia ! Cordelia ! stay a little ! 
what an infinite depth of pathos is there in it all ! It is 
the sublimity of sorrow, the acme of an anguish whose 
appropriate consummation is death." 

On the 15th of January, 1872, Mr. Forrest opened 
at Quincy, and on the 22nd, at Pittsburg. It is almost 
needless for us to say that his advent at any town and 
city was the assurance of crowded houses. The press 
was equally warm in his praise. The editor of the 
Post, at the close of an article on his Lear, said : 

" Does the ordinary man of business keep his highest 
place for fifty years ? Does the author do this ? or the 
clergyman ? or the doctor ? And yet the merchant, or 
the author, the clergyman, or the lawyer, do they, or either 
of them, perform their heaviest labor each day from 8 till 
12 P. M. ? Do they travel on off days and nights, to meet 
new engagements ? Yet all this the actor has to do, and 
the more eminent is his ability the more exacting and un 
ceasing are his labors. And such has been Mr. Forrest s 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 397 

life of labor, through which he still retains his mental and 
physical vigor." 

On the 5th of February, 1872, he opened at Cleve 
land, Ohio, in the character of Richelieu, to one of the 
most fashionable houses of the season. The Daily Her 
ald spoke in the highest terms of his impersonation of 
the Wily Cardinal On the 12th of February, 1872, 
he opened at Detroit, and from thence he proceeded to 
Buffalo, where he played one of the most successful 
engagements made during his tour. The criticisms on 
Mr. Forrest s acting, which appeared in the several 
papers of the city, bear evidence of superior minds 
and intellectual culture on the part of the writers far 
superior to those of many other cities. This is readily 
accounted for, from the fact that Buffalo has always 
been distinguished for her public schools, and has the 
honor of being among the first cities in the State of 
New York in introducing and perfecting this system of 
popular education. Her libraries, her educational and 
benevolent institutions, her university, medical colleges, 
the Young Men s Association, with a library of over 
7,000 volumes, connected with a lecture room ; with a 
newspaper press unequalled for the talent displayed in 
the editorial columns, Buffalo may well claim the title 
of a literary city a modern Athens for learning and 
intelligence. 

On the 26th of February, 1872, he opened in 
Rochester ; on March 4th, in Syracuse, closing at 
Utica, Troy and Albany, where he commenced on the 
18th thus closing one of the most extensive and 
arduous engagements ever attempted by any actor. 

A correspondent of the Syracuse Daily Standard, 
speaking of Mr. Forrest s advent in that city, said : 



398 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" Those who have heard Mr. Forrest, need no sugges 
tion to hear him again. A gentleman who has heard him 
often during a long residence in New York, remarked to 
me recently that he would like to hear him every evening 
the year round. Those who have not heard him, and have 
an ear for the music of speech, should not neglect the op 
portunity. His elocution is a master-piece of perfection. 
His majestic presence and wonderful voice are unimpaired 
by the lapse of time. His style combines the most perfect 
finish with a natural simplicity that pleases alike the rudest 
as well as the most cultivated taste. It is nature itself, 
speaking to nature, and carrying away the soul a willing 
captive. All attempts at description are vain. Words 
are idle. As well attempt to photograph the rainbow, as 
to describe the rich, sweet, and every-varying melody of 
his deep and powerful voice, expressing every shade of 
emotion, from the gentlest sympathy to the most terrible 
storm of passion, which finds in his earthquake utterance 
ample power and to spare. An amusing incident illus 
trates the magic effect of his acting. I heard him about 
four years ago, in New York, in the character of Virginius. 
A gentleman from New Jersey sitting at my elbow told 
me that he was a clergyman, and that he had never been in 
a theatre before in his life, but he could not resist his desire 
to hear Mr. Forrest ; and added that he hoped that none 
of his congregation would recognize him. Before the 
close of the play he said he did not care who recognized 
him. He wished his whole congregation was present, as 
he thought that the moral lesson taught by Mr. Forrest 
was far superior to anything he could do in the pulpit. " 

It is an old saying that "actors represent fiction 
as truth ; and preachers represent truth as fiction ; " 
such being the usual careless manner in which they 
preach. Fortunate, indeed, would it be for the cause 
of religion, if its advocates possessed the eloquence of 
Mr. Forrest ; and the legal profession might have taken 
lessons of him with advantage. 

At the solicitation of numerous friends in Boston, 
Mr. Forrest was induced to forego his intention of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 399 

returning home, and play an engagement in that city. 
During this engagement, Mr. Forrest was attacked 
with an illness, so severe that for awhile his life was in 
danger. In answer to a letter we wrote at that time 
to James Oakes, Esq., of Boston, one of Mr. Forrest s 
old and most intimate friends (and now one of the 
executors of his estate), we received the following : 

" BOSTON, April 18th, 1872. 

" Mr. Forrest arrived in Boston on Saturday, March 
23rd, in pretty good condition, save the wear and tear 
incident to his herculean professional efforts during the 
previous six months. He opened in Lear, on Monday 
evening, March 25th, to an immense audience, and he 
played the old King, five nights the first week, to audiences 
composed of the brightest intelligence of Boston. He 
could have filled the theatre for two weeks longer with 
Lear, had the strain on him permitted its continuance. 
On the following Monday and Tuesday evening he acted 
Richelieu superbly, notwithstanding he was laboring under 
the effects of a sudden and severe cold that caused him to 
be very hoarse. On Wednesday, he was to have acted 
Virginius, but during the day the hoarseness increased, 
and towards evening, congestion of the throat was so 
severe, that it was deemed advisable to call a physician, as 
Mr. Forrest seemed unwilling to abandon acting on that 
night, as he said he could not bear the thought of disap 
pointing a public who had ever been so kind and generous 
to him. When, after the physician had examined him 
thoroughly, he gave it as his medical judgment that if Mr. 
Forrest attempted to perform that night, if he did not die 
on the stage, he probably would not survive until morning, 
then, and not till then, did Mr. Forrest yield and give him 
self up to his physician. Within twenty-four hours he was 
attacked by pneumonia, and for several days a fatal termina 
tion was feared. With the aid of his excellent constitution, 
his iron will, and unfaltering courage, through God s 
mercy, he is now nearly well, and will be able to go home 
in the course of a week. The sympathy for him during 
his illness has been general, not only in our city but 
throughout our whole Commonwealth. No man ever 



400 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

received a truer or more general sympathy than has been 
manifested towards Mr. Forrest. He never in all his life 
acted better than he did on each of the seven nights ; and 
had this engagement been the close of his professional 
career, those seven representations would have stood in 
history as a monument to his splendid genius, more en 
during than any of marble or of brass that could have 
been raised." 

From this severe attack Mr. Forrest slowly re 
covered ; and when he emerged from the sick room, his 
health was shattered, and lie was incapacitated, by a 
paralysis of his limbs, from again at least for a time 
appearing upon the stage. He reached his home, 
and in the quiet of his extensive library, surrounded 
by his favorite authors, or seated calmly in his picture- 
gallery, gazing upon gems of art of his own selection 
or working in his garden his mind tuned to harmony, 
he found health and strength reviving under these 
cheering home influences. 

We conclude this part of our Keminiscences with 
the following beautiful tribute to the dramatic genius 
of Mr. Forrest, written by one highly valued and esteem 
ed in the literary world a struggling bard for that 
fame which cruel death deprived him from reaching. 
Yet he died with a wreath of poetic beauty on his brow 
placed there by those who knew his worth and 
mourned his loss. The article was written when the 
author was under the impression that Mr. Forrest was 
about retiring from the stage : 

" Every lover of the drama will hope that the day may 
be far distant when his professional displays will terminate; 
and the plaudits of his admiring countrymen ring upon 
his ears for the last time. Whenever that event -occurs, 
and he ceases to be a hero of the actual present, his memo 
ry will become enshrined in the hearts of myriads, as be- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 4Q1 

ing connected with the most inspiring and exalted mo 
ments of their lives ; and they will look back at this great 
star of scenic splendor, and recall with delight those varied 
and intense emotions, which, with magic power, he had 
often produced within them, when portraying so impres 
sively, the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears, the 
grandeurs and the vicissitudes of humanity. 

" * Thus, by the mighty actor wrought 
Illusion s perfect triumphs come ; 
Verse ceases to be airy thought, 
And sculpture to be dumb 1 " 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

RETROSPECTION. YOUTHFUL REMINISCENCES. FAIR- 
MOUNT. OLDEN TIME. PLACE OF REHEARSAL. 

A CLOSE STUDENT. PRIVATE LIFE. COAT OF 

ARMS. THE IDIOT BOY. POEM. 

THE dark shadow that fell upon his early pathway 
of life, had a certain influence over his otherwise 
genial nature. It was then he turned his attention 
stronger than ever to the stage, and endeavored, by 
constant action, to drive away the gloom that was 
gradually settling on his mind. And yet, how often do 
the stern realities of every-day life o ertop the fictions 
of romance and the stage ! Where the latter presents 
one Mrs. Haller, the great world produces thousands ; 
and when we see portrayed the seducer and the plau 
sible libertine of the drama, do we not recognize their 
counterparts multiplied ad infinitum in real life ? 
During Mr. Forrest s visit to the Springs, and other 
places, on his pleasure tour, one or two writers spoke 
25 



402 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

of his taciturn manner and gloomy aspect ; and, as one 
asserted, as "if laboring under mental depression/ 
Much of this was simply imaginary. Mr. Forrest did 
not court the acquaintance of strangers, nor intrude 
himself in their company, like many of the profession 
do. He might have been called distant, cold and for 
mal, at a first glance ; but a warmer heart and friend 
lier disposition, prone to familiarity, did not exist ; but 
that familiarity was not the growth of an instant ; it 
was progressive, and few men possessed a greater 
amount of true wit and humor than did Edwin Forrest. 
Those who knew him, and visited him in his " hours 
of ease/ free from the " fitful thoughts " of the past, 
can readily contradict the statements of transient trav 
ellers and letter writers. It was the nature of Mr. For 
rest to be social, and to be a boy again when we were 
talking over the bright days of our youth how we 
wandered on the banks of the Schuylkill, climbed the 
huge rocks that towered above our heads, which seemed 
as monuments reared to- honor Nature ; but are now 
supplanted by ornamental trees, beauteous walks, and 
a basin of water from which flows to all parts of the 
city the pure water of the river Schuylkill. What is 
Fairmount now ? In the days of our youth it was a 
wild, romantic scene of rocks and mammoth trees. 
The hand of man has transformed the wilderness to a 
parterre of flowers. 

It was beneath the huge oaks, whose spreading 
branches shaded us from the sun, that Edwin Forrest 
first tried his voice in " public speaking." As it were 
but yesterday, we can see him, in all his boyish pride, 
reciting the speech from Douglas : " My name is Nor- 
val," etc., his voice echoing far and wide, and through 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 4Q3 

the arena Nature s self had made. Nor was he alone in 
this. There was Jack Moore, practising to play Alex 
ander the Great ; but whose voice was harsh and un 
musical, while the former s was all harmony. Moore 
enacted Alexander the Great, at Tivoli Garden, in 1818, 
and Edwin Forrest, Young Norval, at the Walnut 
Street Theatre, 1820. 

Fairmount was a favorite resort of the young men 
of the day. It was our custom to meet on a Sunday at 
Palmer s printing office in Locust Street, above Eighth, 
and make arrangements for a ramble in the country 
Fairmount was the country then. Well do we remem 
ber meeting in the composing room of this printing 
office, with Benj. Mifflin, Washington Dawson, Edwin 
Forrest, Anthony Seyfert, J. H. Campbell, Joseph C. 
Neal, and others, with whom all our earlier associations 
are pleasingly connected. We may as well state here, 
that being four years older than Mr. Forrest, we looked 
upon him at that time as a " boy," and that our age 
entitled us to consider him our protege, which he soon 
discovered, and resented as being presumptuous. Since 
then, when laughing over our boyish days, and contrast 
ing the great actor with ourselves, we indeed thought 
it the height of presumption. We cannot leave this 
subject without referring once more to Fairmount. 
Those who look back to their boyhood days, and re 
member some well-remembered play-ground, can readily 
appreciate our feelings while contrasting the present 
view of this beautiful place with what it was then. We 
give an extract from a letter written by William Penn 
to James Logan, in 1701, showing his fancy for the 
site of the present water works, and his intention to 
settle there if he returned, saying : " My eye, though not 



404 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

my heart, is upon Fairmount, unless the unworthiness 
of some spirits drive me up to Pennsburg or Susque- 
hanna for good and all." Watson, in his Annals of 
Philadelphia, speaking of Fairmount, says : " All this 
change of Fairmount, by the hand of art, is a fair 
exchange for the loss of its original rugged, woody and 
romantic cliffs ; then all solitary and silent, now all 
busy with active life, and useful, by its poetic utility, 
sustaining the health, and blessing the city inhabitants/ 

Our readers can readily pardon this digression when 
they take into consideration that it is a remembrance 
of our youth which calls up a scene so dear to us, and as 
the play-ground of one with whom our earliest predi 
lections of the stage are associated ; as also with others, 
who, like him, have passed away, and left us in age to 
wander alone amid scenes, which, although much 
altered, still bear the traces of their former " rugged " 
grandeur. 

As we have said, it was the nature of Mr. Forrest 
to be social; but the profession to which he belonged 
had drawn a curtain between him and the real world. 
The actor lives and breathes in an atmosphere of his 
own a sort of lesser world, different, far different from 
that of the great ; he peoples it with the spirits of the 
dead, talks to them through books, and on the stage 
assumes their person and character. Thus the mind 
becomes so imbued, as it were, with the philosophy of 
the world of letters, that it contracts, rather than ex 
pands, when it comes in contact with that of the world 
of art. It was supposed by many that the seeming 
sternness and gravity of Mr. Forrest was of recent 
origin. Not so ; for when a boy he associated but little 
with others, unless with those who, like him, had a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 4Q5 

penchant for the stage. His chief companion was a 
play-book, a character in it, his study. Wrapt up in 
the pleasure derived from such companionship, he found 
but little to amuse him beyond its pages. We called 
him the "philosopher in petticoats." We have said 
that Mr. Forrest possessed a rich fund of wit and 
humor. So he did, but it was more of a refined 
than of a coarse nature. He would illustrate in a 
truly artistic manner the peculiar characteristics of a 
" Jakey," without his low expletives. He was equally 
felicitous in imitating a Frenchman ; and would keep 
the table in a roar by giving imitations of the modern 
mode of teaching elocution. His rendering of the 
"Sailor Boy s Dream," in imitation of that peculiar 
school of recitation, was a perfect gem. 

" A merrier man, 

Within the limit of becoming- mirth, 
I never spent an hour s talk withal." 

Col. John W. Forney, in his "Anecdotes of Public 
Men," speaking of Mr. Forrest, says: "He needed no 
solicitation to display his varied stores of humor and 
of information. Sketches of foreign travel; photo 
graphs of Southern manners, alike of the master and 
the slave ; his celebrated French criticism upon Shake 
speare ; his imitation of the old clergyman of Charles 
ton, South Carolina, who, deaf himself, believed every 
body else to be so ; his thrilling account of his meeting 
with Edmund Kean, at Albany, when Forrest was a 
boy ; his incidents of Gen. Jaekson ; his meeting with 
Lafayette, at Richmond, in 1825. Few that heard 
him can ever forget that night. But nothing that he 
did will be remembered longer than the manner in 
which he recited The Idiot Boy/ a production up to 



40G LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

that time unknown to everybody in the room except 
Forrest and myself, and to me, only because I heard 
him repeat it seven years before, when I lived on 
Eighth Street, in the house lately known as the 
Waverly." 

Another writer said : 

ME. FORREST WAS A GREAT STUDEKT. 

" Having received but little instruction in his boyhood, 
from the time fortune dawned upon him, he sought by 
every means that wealth and determination could give him 
to make himself an accomplished man. His library in 
Philadelphia, of which everybody has heard, was his home, 
his resting-place; and here he gathered such a store of 
literary knowledge as but few men acquire, even in a 
longer life than sixty-seven years. Mr. John W. Forney 
has been heard to say, on returning from a visit to Mr. 
Forrest, that Forrest w r as a fresh surprise to him each hour 
he spent in his company. His knowledge was not confined 
to dramatic literature alone. He was a good classical 
scholar, a remarkably acute and learned lawyer, and his 
knowledge of science and arts alone would have made him 
a foremost man in any country." 

The writer of these Keminiscences, during this in 
terregnum in the professional life of his friend, and 
while he was preparing for his readings, spent much of 
his leisure time with him, and occasionally partook of 
a "quiet supper" at his house. Mr. Forrest had, in a 
measure, shut himself out from society; and it may 
well be said, he lived a lonely life. How many of his 
old friends would have been delighted to render his 
loneliness more cheerful ? 

MR. FORREST S COAT OF ARMS. 

One day we found him busily engaged drawing 
something on a card ; it was a design, tastefully, if not 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 407 

artistically arranged. " Look at that," said he, holding 
it up to our view; "What do you think of it ?" 

"Why, it is your coat of arms !" 

"How do you like the design?" 

"Very well; and the trees and the leaves, entwi 
ning, quite appropriate. Is it your own design?" 

" Certainly ; it requires but a little stretch of the 
imagination to get up such a thing as this;" throwing 
it scornfully, it seemed to us, on the table. "These 
things," he continued, "savor too much of foreign aris 
tocracy, which, I am sorry to say, too many of our 
people follow. With us, true nobility lies in the heart, 
the soul, and mind of man, not in ancestry." Here he 
recited a passage from some author, which we forget, 
forcibly illustrating the folly of boasting of rank and 
descent. Forrest was to our "manor born," and es 
chewed everything of a foreign character, calculated to 
corrupt and demoralize our "manners" and customs. 
He was an American, heart and soul. The card repre 
sented a tree, resting on a closed helmet, around and 
about which were wreaths of oak leaves. Portions of 
the lower part of the helmet rested on a shield ; and in 
stead of the usual Argent bars, azure, and gules, there 
were three trees placed in circular form, standing on a 
green ground, which color characterized the other por 
tions of the crest. Immediately beneath the shield, was 
the following motto: " Vivunt dum Virent;" and un 
derneath this was a tablet, sustained as it were by the 
wings of a bird, on which was engraved the name 
"FORREST." Altogether, it was a beautiful design. 
The original is now in our possession. 

We allude to these peculiarities here for the pur 
pose of doing away with an impression that Mr. For- 



408 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

rest was a melancholy man ; he may have had his 
hours of sadness and of gloom ; he may have looked 
despondently back over the past, and traced upon its 
surface those shadows that still dim memory s mirror, 
despite of all our attempts to erase them; with all 
this, the true nature of the man was there. 

" His bold brow 
Bore the scars of mind, tlie thoughts 

Of years, 
But not their decrepitude." 

Even the silence and quiet of his library, sur 
rounded by the still monitors of the world of letters 
alone, the pale light streaming down upon the open 
pages of a book, could not put out the flame of youth 
which lingered in his heart. Still the influence of the 
stage and the dramatic school, more or less, had its 
effect upon him, making him at times less cheerful, 
and uncompanionable ; but when the spirit of the once 
" wild dreaming boy " was aroused, you found him a 
different being, and as Col. John W. Forney said, " he 
was one of us/ and not the misanthrope, letter writers 
would make him. 

Again, if you touched an intellectual chord, you 
awakened within him those hidden fires of genius 
which shone so brightly in mimic scenes. Among men 
of mind, Mr. Forrest could maintain, nay lead the 
conversation upon any subject ; for he had not only 
studied books, those epitomes of the world, but he had 
read the great book of creation in its original text. 
Conversant with the classics, familiar with the writers 
of every age, his deductions were made not from the 
ideas of the superficial, but from those of minds capable 
of forming, reasoning, and classifying. His arguments 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKKEST. 409 

were listened to with attention ; for he was bold, ener 
getic, original, and at times unanswerable. Such, in 
fact, was Mr. Forrest in the private circle. There are 
those who imagined Mr. Forrest a Hamlet in private 
life ; a sort of melancholy prince of the household, and 
put the meaning of words into his mouth to suit 
their own critical notion. They would have him say: 

" Oh, that this too, too solid 

Flesh would melt, 

Thaw, and resolve into a dew." 

When, in fact, he would have it do no such thing. 
They would synonymal passages of Shakespeare ex 
pressly for him passages that only affected him as the 
actor, not as the man. We have heard people say 
how suited is such and such a passage to Mr. Forrest 
how apt, and illustrative, and how forcibly and 
pointedly did he deliver them. One we quote : 

"And yet, to me, what is the quintescence of dust? 
Man delights not me nor woman neither; though by 
your smiling you seem to say so." 

It is here Hamlet spoke truth ; but that the actor 
should be accused of placing particular stress upon 
the lines to suit himself, is ridiculous. We said 
Hamlet spoke the truth, as regarded himself, and it 
is to be regretted that Shakespeare, in connection with 
this beautiful passage, should have made Rosencranz 
tell a most deliberate falsehood, for he immediately 
answers : 

" My Lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts," 

and turns off the questioning with another lie, by making 
an allusion to the players. Passages of Othello have 
also been quoted, as being pet subjects for the display 



410 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

of Mr. Forrest s peculiar temperament. Edwin Forrest, 
in personal appearance, was a man who did not ask, 
but demanded attention ; he was tall, dignified, grave, 
and at times absolutely majestic; courteous in speech, 
affable in manner ; in thought, feeling, and action, a 
gentleman. His eye was full of fire and expression. 
His voice possessed remarkable compass, both for 
power and melody ; from the awful curse of Lear, and 
the passion of jealousy depicted by the Moor, down 
to the delivery of the simple story of the " Idiot Boy; " 
there never was such a voice, so tuned to pathos, 
so aroused to torrents of passion, invoked by the emo 
tions of the character he had to portray, heard upon 
the stage. There are many passages in Shakespeare 
whose sublimity and grandeur are only surpassed by 
those of the Bible, which no actor, either living or 
dead, that we ever heard, could approach Edwin For 
rest in the delivering of them. 

THE IDIOT BOY. 

Those who have heard this touching effusion re 
cited by Mr. Forrest will never forget either the 
pathos with which he rendered it, or his simple af 
fecting introduction to it. In speaking one day of 
this poem, and its author, Mr. Forrest stated that 
he was under the impression it was written by a 
brother of the poet Southey. 

" It had pleased God to form poor Ned 

A thing of idiot mind, 
Yet to the poor unreasoning 1 boy 
God had not been unkind. 

Old Sarah loved her helpless child, 

Whom helplessness made dear, 
And life was everything to him 

Who knew no hope nor fear. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 411 



She knew his wants, she understood 

Each half artic late call ; 
For he was everything to her, 

And she to him was all. 

And so for many a year they lived, 

Nor knew a wish beside ; 
But age at length on Sarah came, 

And she fell sick and died. 

He tried in vain to waken her : 

He called her o er and o er, 
They told him she was dead : the words 

To him no import bore. 

They closed her eyes and shrouded her, 
Whilst he stood -wond ring by ; 

And when they bore her to the grave, 
He followed silently. 

They laid her in the narrow house, 
And sung the funeral stave ; 

And when the mournful train dispersed, 
He loitered by the grave. 

The rabble boys that used to jeer 
Whene er they saw poor Ned, 

Now stood and watched him at the grave, 
And not a word was said. 

They came and went and came again, 

And night at last drew on ; 
Yet still he lingered at the place 

Till every one was gone. 

And when he found himself alone, 

He quick removed the clay, 
And raised the coffin in his arms 

And bore it swift away. 

Straight went he to his mother s cot, 

And laid it on the floor ; 
And with the eagerness of joj 

He barred the cottage dooi 

At once he placed his mother s corpse 

Upright within her chair ; 
And then he heaped the hearth and blew 

The kindling fire with care. 



412 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 



She now was in her wonted chair, 

It was her wonted place, 
And bright the fire blazed and flashed, 

Reflected from her face. 

Then bending down he d feel her hands, 

Anon her face behold ; 
Why, mother, do you look so pale 

And why are you so cold ? 

And when the neighbors on next morn 
Had forced the cottage door, 

Old Sarah s corpse was in the chair, 
And Ned s was on the floor. 



It had pleased God from this poor boy 

His only friend to call : 
Yet God was not unkind to him, 

For death restored him all ! " 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

OUR DRAMATIC AUTHORS. THE STAGE. RICHARD 
PENN SMITH S CAIUS MARIUS. WHEN FIRST PRO 
DUCED. HOW IT WAS RECEIVED. AN AUTHOR S 
TRIALS. HIS GOOD NATURE. EXTRACT FROM THE 
PLAY. ANECDOTES. 

~TN the last chapter we left Mr. Forrest enjoying 
-*- the comforts of home ; but he was not idle ; his 
spirit could not brook complete inanity, and, in con 
sultation with his friends, he decided to give Shake- 
sperian readings. At first we objected to this step. 
"Wait," we said, "a little longer. You are now im 
proving in health so rapidly, that you will in a very 
short time be enabled to enact Lear, Eichelieu, and 
the Broker of Bogota, three of your best characters, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 413 

as well as ever. Your lameness will not be perceivable, 
as age and infirmity are essential in giving due effect 
to their impersonation." 

"I have thought of that/ he said; "and if this 
medicine should effect a cure " alluding to some vile 
nostrum he was taking " I will follow your advice ; 
in the meantime, these readings will not interfere with 
my future arrangements." 

Alas ! that future to him was oblivion. The fu 
ture ! alas ! who can look into that dark unfathomless 
gulf and stay his footsteps on its brink ? 

" Out, out, brief candle ! 
Life s but a walking shadow ; a poor player, 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, 
And then is heard no more ; it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 

Signifying nothing." 

Before we bring Mr. Forrest before the public as a 
reader, let us introduce the names of those American 
authors and their productions which the genius of the 
great actor brought so eminently before the American 
people. 

OUR DRAMATIC AUTHORS. THE STAGE. 

" For thee, the bard shall draw from every clime, 
The swelling triumph and the curtained crime ; 
Death s moss-grown gates unbar, the sleepers wake, 
To charm the good, and bid the guilty quake." 

The name of Mr. Forrest is closely identified with 
what is aptly termed the American Drama. Several 
fine productions have been written principally through 
his instrumentality, which else, perhaps, would never 
have found their way into existence. Instead of 
hoarding the profits of his industry (which were earned 
solely by hazardous toil, and which, truly, none had a 



414 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

better right to retain), he devoted a part of it to the 
rise of dramatic literature ; and while he thus held 
forth a sufficient stimulus to rouse the inactive to 
action, had himself exerted his own talent in support 
of these productions. If in one or two instances the 
pieces failed to meet the public approbation, it was 
not owing to any fault of the actor ; still he gave to 
them the finishing touch of art, thus rendering their 
dramatic imperfections less apparent. Those that 
were successful will still retain their place on the stage; 
but we question, even with all their merit, whether 
others will be enabled to sustain the character so ably 
as did that great master of the histrionic art. It will 
be long before the impression Mr. Forrest made in such 
characters as Metarnora, Spartacus, Jack Cade, Broker 
of Bogota, Oraloosa, and Caius Marius, will be erased 
from the public mind. Mr. Forrest has done more indi 
vidually, than all the theatres in the country combined, 
to draw forth and reward the talents of native drama 
tists. Identified thus with our literature, and pos 
sessing wealth sufficient to do much good, Mr. Forrest, 
of course, received the just praise, of just men, for the 
manner in which he used his position to advance the 
interest of our dramatic literature. Well was it said 
by the late Judge Conrad, that " The drama here is 
yet in its infancy. Let it be fostered, and who can 
foresee its destiny ? Let it be fostered not with false 
tenderness, or indiscreet indulgence, but with a care, 
vigorous but parental, frostly but kindly." 

RICHARD PENN SMITHES CAIUS MARIUS. 

This play was produced at the Arch Street Thea 
tre, January 12th, 1831. It was not fairly treated by 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 415 

the actors, many of whom were imperfect in the words 
of the author. Mr. Forrest, always perfect in his part, 
fought bravely, and almost alone, to save the piece. 
Even after a careful rehearsal, its success was ques 
tionable, and Mr. Forrest had to drop it from his re 
pertoire. The tragedy possesses sterling merit as a 
literary production, the language is uniformly vigorous, 
and the sentiments poetical and just. With all these, 
the very attributes of a good play, it lacked the most 
important action and effect; the curtain falls grace 
fully on each act to some beautiful sentiment, but no 
tableaux to create applause ; a sound that falls upon 
the author and actor as refreshing as the dew of 
Heaven. 

Kichard Penn Smith was a native of Philadelphia, 
and a member of the bar. From his father, William 
Moore Smith, a gentleman of the old school, of highly 
polished education and manners, and a poet of consid 
erable reputation in his day, he inherited a taste for 
letters, and was early distinguished for the extent and 
variety of his acquirements. His first appearance as 
an author was in the columns of the Union, where he 
published a series of letters, moral and literary, under 
the title of the "Plagiary." About the close of the 
year 1822, he purchased the newspaper establishment, 
then well-known throughout the country, as the Au 
rora, from Mr. Duane, and assumed the arduous and 
responsible duties of an editor. At this dray-horse 
work he continued about five years, when, finding it 
both wearisome and unprofitable, he abandoned it, and 
resumed his profession. A good classical scholar, and 
a tolerable linguist, with a decided bent for the pur 
suits of literature, his mind was well stored with the 



416 LIFE OP EDWIN FORKEST. 

classics, both ancient and modern ; and amid the vexa 
tions and drudgery of a daily newspaper, he wooed the 
muses with considerable success. Perhaps to the dis 
cipline which editorship necessarily imposes, and the 
promptness which it requires, may in part be attri 
buted the great facility he possessed in composition. 
While engaged in the duties of a profession, generally 
considered uncongenial to the successful prosecution of 
literary adventure, he produced a number and variety 
of pieces, both in prose and verse, which showed con 
siderable versatility of talent. His favorite study was 
the drama, and with this department of literature he 
was thoroughly familiar. With the dramatists of all 
nations he had an extensive acquaintance, and in the 
dramatic history of England and France he was pro 
foundly versed. Perhaps there are few who studied 
the old English masters in this art with more devoted 
attention, and with a keener enjoyment of their beau 
ties. But it is not alone in the keen enjoyment and 
appreciation of others that he deserves attention. He 
has given ample evidence that he possessed no ordinary 
power for original effort in this most difficult depart 
ment of literature. 

We do not know how many plays he has produced, 
but the following, all from his pen, have been .per 
formed at different periods: Quite Correct; Eighth of 
January; The Disowned, or the Prodigals; The De 
formed, or Woman s Trial; A Wife at a Venture ; The 
Sentinels; William Penn; The Triumph of Platts- 
burg; Caius Marius; The Water Witch; Is She a 
Brigand ; My Uncle s Wedding ; The Daughter ; The 
Actress of Padua ; and The Bravo. 

As an evidence of his facility in composition, it 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 417 

may be mentioned that several of his pieces were 
written and performed at a week s notice. The 
entire last act of William Penn was written on the 
afternoon of the day previous to its performance, 
yet this hasty production ran ten successive nights, 
drawing full houses, and has since been several times 
revived. His Deformed, and Disowned, two dramas, 
which may be compared favorably with any similar 
productions of this country, were both performed with 
great success in London. 

If green-room anecdotes can be depended on, Mr. 
Smith was blessed with a much thicker skin than 
usually falls to the lot of the genus irratdbile vatum. 
It is said that on one occasion he happened to enter the 
theatre, during the first run of one of his pieces, just 
as the curtain was falling, and met with an old school 
fellow who had that day arrived in Philadelphia, after 
an absence of several years. The first salutation was 
scarcely over, when the curtain fell, and the author s 
friend innocently remarked, " Well, this is really the 
most insufferable trash that I have witnessed for 
some time." " True," replied Smith, " but as they 
give me a benefit to-morrow night as the author, I 
hope to have the pleasure of seeing you here again." 
At another time, a friend met him in the lobby as 
the green curtain fell, like a funeral pall, on one of 
his progeny, and unconscious of its paternity, asked 
the author, with a sneer, what the piece was all 
about. " Really," was the grave answer, " it is now 
some years since I wrote that piece, and though I 
paid the utmost attention to the performance, I con 
fess I am as much in the dark as you are." 

In 1831, Mr. Smith published a work in two vol- 
26 



418 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

umes, called the "Forsaken/ 5 the scene of which was 
laid in Philadelphia and the adjoining country, during 
our revolutionary struggle. At that time, American 
novels with the exception of Cooper s, were not re 
ceived with the same favor as now ; but a large edi 
tion of the "Forsaken^ was even then disposed of, 
and it obtained from all quarters strong commenda 
tion. In our judgment, it is a work highly creditable 
to the author. The story is interesting, and in its 
progress, fiction is blended with historical truth with 
considerable skill and force. 

Mr. Smith also published two volumes, entitled 
"The Actress of Padua, and other Tales," which 
have been eminently successful. As a writer of short 
tales, he was natural and unaffected in manner, cor 
rect in description, concise in expression, and happy 
in the selection of incidents. He possessed, more 
over, a quiet humor, and an occasional sarcasm, which 
made his productions both pleasant and pungent. 

Mr. Smith wrote much for the periodical literature 
of the day, both political and literary, and his po 
etical pieces, if collected, would make a large volume ; 
but these appear to have been scattered abroad, with 
out any purpose of reclamation. His name is at 
tached to a limited number, which are distinguished 
by a healthy tone of thought, neatness of expression, 
and harmony of versification ; but as, generally, they 
were produced for some particular occasion, they have 
most of them, at least passed into oblivion with 
the occasion that called them into existence. 

The following extract from Caius Marius, may be 
considered a fair specimen of his style : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 419 

ACT V. SCENE V. 

The Capitol. A Festive Board decorated. MARIUS and SOLDIERS 
seated with goblets before them. MARTHA, the Sybil, near MARIUS. 
CINNA and SULPITIUS standing at the wing. 

Marius. "Fill up your goblets, till the rosy wine 
Sparkles like Sylla s blood. Drink to the shades 
Of the Ambrones and the Cimbril ; drink 
To those whom Marius vanquished. See, they come ; 
The yelling spirits of the savage Teutons, 
And mad Jugurtha, foaming neath his chains, 
Arise to join the pledge. Drink deep, I say, 
To th enemies of Rome, for they are now 
The friends of Marius. 

Sulpitius. How his eyes glare ! 

Marius. Who was it saved ungrateful Italy, 
When swarms of savages like locusts came, 
To batten on her fertile fields and vineyards ? 
Whose name struck terror through the countless horde, 
And checked the progress of the sweeping deluge, 
And turn d its fearful course ? Twas Marius ! 
Who was it led proud Afric s haughty king, 
In triumph, at his chariot wheels, through Rome, 
Until the monarch, who for years defied her, 
Became imbecile, and deprived of reason ? 
Twas Marius ! " 

Mr. Forrest paid much better for original plays 
than the managers, who being able to purchase the 
best plays of English dramatists for a few dollars, 
felt little disposition to risk hundreds on native pro 
ductions, which, unaided by the talent of an acknowl 
edged star, seldom outlive the first night of repre 
sentation. 

ANECDOTES. 

There are numerous anecdotes related of Kichard 
Penn Smith, all of which display the most ready wit, 
and sarcastic humor. Indeed, he was so celebrated for 
repartee and off-hand sayings, that he was actually 
dreaded in company, and very few had the courage to 
measure lances with him when wit was the prize. A 
few we give here : 

When Mr. Smith was a young man ; he was intro- 



420 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

duced by his father to a well-known Philadelphian, by 
the name of Wharton, who, from the fact of having a 
very large nose with a wart on it, was called, " Big 
nosed Wharton," to distinguish him from another gen 
tleman by the same name. When out of hearing, the 
father said to the son, " They call that gentleman big 
nosed Wharton." The son quickly replied, " They 
have made a mistake, they should call him Wart-on 
big nose." 

Upon going one day into a hotel in which some 
of his friends were holding an argument about the city 
of Dumfries, Scotland, they made an appeal to him 
to decide the question. "I know nothing of tJie Dum 
fries of Scotland, but I know a Dumb -freas of German- 
town." Mr. Freas of the Gerniantown Telegraphy was 
sitting within hearing at the time. 

He was one evening sitting at the table of a dinner 
given to the Judges of the Supreme Court by the Bar 
of Philadelphia. Mr. Smith had his health drank, and 
when he arose to reply, a well-known lawyer by the 
name of Robert M. Lee, pulled him by the coat and 
urged him to toast him. As Mr. Smith closed his re 
marks, he said : 

" Gentlemen, you have toasted the Binneys , Raw- 
les , and Sergeants of the bar, allow me to offer the lees 
< Here is to the health of Robert M. Lee/ " Mr. Lee 
did not see the joke, and replied to the amusement of 
all present. 

Mr. Smith always raised his own pork. On one 
occasion he had them killed on the eighth of January. 
The next day he met a friend who remarked : " Smith, 
yesterday was a fine day for killing pigs." " Yes," 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 421 

replied Smith, "but it was a bad day for Packing- 
ham." 

Mr. Smith died on August 12th, 1854. 



CHAPTEK XL. 

DR. ROBERT MONTGOMERY BIRD. HIS BIRTH AND 

EDUCATION. STUDIES MEDICINE. BECOMES A 

POET. CELEBRATED AS A NOVELIST. FAMOUS AS 

A DRAMATIST. THE GLADIATOR A GREAT SUCCESS. 

FORREST AS SPARTACUS. ORALOOSA. BROKER 

OF BOGOTA. 

IN Chapter VII. allusions were made to Dr. Bird, 
in connection with the subject of these Remin 
iscences. We will now give some further account of 
the beautiful productions of this highly accomplished 
gentleman and scholar. 

Dr. Robert Montgomery Bird was born in New 
castle, Del., in the year 1805, and died in the city of 
Philadelphia, January 23rd, 1854. It is too often the 
case, and we deeply regret it, that the memory of our 
literary men, as well as their works, are permitted to 
pass away from us, without an effort to keep them be 
fore the world, and remain as finger-posts, to point the 
ambitious to that "majesty of worth," from whence 
immortality springs. Fame, literary fame, with us is 
evanescent, a mere streak of sunshine over the dark 
scenes of dull plodding life. Few live in favor of the 
world ; few die who are remembered afterwards, unless 
some peculiar and striking feature, in their literary 
career, is calculated to repay the trouble of re-produ- 



422 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

cing their works. Having no standard of literature of 
our own, no national feeling upon the subject, it is 
not to be expected that the works of an author will live 
in after ages, when the estimate of an age with us is 
a season. 

Dr. Bird was a pupil of Mount Airy College, Grer- 
mantown; after leaving which, he studied medicine, 
and received his degree of M. D., from the University 
of Pennsylvania ; but, we believe, never experimented 
with human life, to test his ability to cure. This, we 
conceive to have been one of the most humane traits in 
his character. 

His first appearance, as an author, was in 1828, 
when he published in the Philadelphia Monthly Maga 
zine, three spirited tales, entitled, " The Ice Island," 
" The Spirit of the Keeds," and the " Phantom Play 
ers," besides several short pieces of poetry, the best of 
which was " Saul s Last Day." At this time, Dr. 
Bird had already written several tragedies, in imitation 
of the old English Drama, but none of his labors at 
that period had ever been submitted to the public. 
We recollect perusing the manuscript of two, which 
gave promise of the distinction that awaited him as a 
dramatist. They were entitled " The Cowl d Lover," 
and " Caridorf." If these productions were now to be 
revived, we have no doubt they would advance the au 
thor s reputation as a poet. At this period he had also 
written two or three regular comedies, but it struck us 
that his comic powers did not bear him through as tri 
umphantly as his talents for delineating the terrible and 
sublime had done. Edwin Forrest, who has done more 
individually, than all the theatres in the country com 
bined, to draw forth and reward the talents of native 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 423 

dramatists, was the means of introducing Dr. Bird at 
his very onset, as a writer, triumphantly to the whole 
American people. This was on the first production of 
the tragedy of the Gladiator, written with a view to the 
powers and talents of Mr. Forrest ; and it has seldom 
occurred that author and actor were so much indebted 
to each other, as on this occasion. The piece was em 
inently successful throughout the Union ; and, although 
written exclusively with a view to the stage, it abounds 
with poetic passages, and possesses no ordinary share 
of literary merit. The scene in the arena, at the close 
of the second act, when the gladiators break loose from 
their tyrants, and raise the standard of freedom, is not 
surpassed on the score of originality and effect, by any 
scene in any modern drama. This tragedy was speedily 
followed by another, entitled, Oraloosa, founded on the 
cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru, but it never acquired 
the popularity of its predecessor, though received upon 
the stage with every mark of public favor. Oraloosa, 
was succeeded by the Broker of Bogota, which we con 
sider the most finished of Dr. Bird s dramas. It did 
not create the decided impression that was produced 
by the Gladiator, for there was nothing of the drums 
and trumpets, and battling for freedom, which this play 
affords, to put the spirit in motion; but the Broker 
of Bogota, viewed as a specimen of dramatic art, sur 
passes either of the other pieces. All these tragedies 
were written expressly for Mr. Forrest, and were per 
formed by him with eminent success. Prior to the 
production of either, Dr. Bird had written a trag 
edy, entitled, Pelopidas, fitted to the powers of our 
tragedian, and every way calculated to enhance the 
author s reputation. 



424 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

This play has never been produced, and probably, 
although it is said to be far superior to Oraloosa, never 
will, having been condemned by the author himself. 

In 1833, Dr. Bird became a candidate for public 
favor, in another department of literature, and he met 
with the same decided success as a novelist, that had 
attended his labors as a dramatist. His first novel was 
entitled " Calavar, a Koniance of Mexico." This was 
followed by " The Infidel/ " Nick of the Woods," and 
" The Hawks of Hawk Hollow," the scene of which 
was laid in Pennsylvania. These productions at once 
placed him in the front rank of American novelists, in 
the estimation of the intelligent, both at home and 
abroad. All his novels have been republished in Lon 
don, and have been reviewed in terms of high com 
mendation. His language is eloquent, imaginative, and 
powerful. His characters are well contrasted, boldly con 
ceived, and happily and consistently sustained through 
out ; while his plots are constructed with dramatic 
skill, and his subjects and scenes present a freshness 
and originality in striking contrast with the racifimen- 
toes of some of the novelists of the day. 

He was the author of several pieces of poetry, all 
of which were remarkable for great delicacy, simplicity 
and sweetness. He was a good classical scholar, pos 
sessed a knowledge of several languages, and his read 
ing was extensive and various, and more familiar with 
the history of South America, and Spanish North 
America, than any other man in the country. 

It has been said by some critics, envious of Dr. 
Bird s fair fame, that his style, though energetic, is 
coarse. There are passages in " Calavar," and " Nick 
of the Woods," which, in point of eloquence, pathos, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 425 

and all the elementary rules of composition, will com 
pete with any work of a similar kind in the English 
language. In fact, we would quote " Nick of the 
Woods " throughout, and contrast it with any one of 
Bulwer s novels, nor have any fears of the result. 
"Nick of the Woods" is a compliment to the literature 
of our country. 

Dr. Bird was much esteemed for his urbanity and 
unostentatious demeanor. There was about him none 
of that poetical nonsense which clings to so many who 
lay claim to a literary character. He had less egotism 
than any man we ever met with ; like the farmer, he 
cultivated the soil of literature for its fruit, not its 
blossoms ; he garnered up the seed, while others made 
bouquets out of their productions, and paraded them as 
they would a diamond breastpin, or a new coat ; things 
seldom, however, available with them for such a pur 
pose. In stature, Dr. Bird was about five feet ten 
inches high ; robust, with a mild, amiable counte 
nance, hair slightly tinged with silver gray. 

Something like Dominie Sampson, Dr. Bird was a 
complete book- worm, and, at times, so absorbed in 
literary pursuits, that he paid little or no attention to 
worldly matters. As an instance of this, we might 
cite facts to show how prone he was to the wiles, or 
rather sly jokes of some of his intimate friends, who 
took delight in what they called " drawing him out." 
The doctor was, in fact, so single-minded in all that 
related to the rascality of the age, that it would seem 
that he, like Rip Van Winkle, had been asleep for the 
last twenty years, and just woke up in time to become 
acquainted with men and things as they existed 
around him. Correct himself, and truly honorable, he 



426 LIFE OP EDWIN FORKEST. 

naturally believed all the world to be so. On one oc 
casion, and we believe the only time the doctor ever 
witnessed the representation of his play of the Broker 
of Bogota, a gentleman who was seated near him, 
observed " The author of this piece, whoever he is, 
must be a d d scoundrel himself, or he never could 
have sketched such a villain as that," alluding to a 
character in the play. The doctor started, gazed on 
the speaker, and satisfied that the man spoke without 
a knowledge who he was, made some remark in reply, 
and left the theatre in disgust. This incident the 
doctor himself related. 

These little grievances are the trials of poor au 
thors, and neither the actors, managers, or audiences, 
have any sympathy for them. The fact is, an author 
can be likened to a dyspeptic his disease creates 
laughter and sarcasm, instead of kindness and sym 
pathy. 

In all the social relations of life, Dr. Bird main 
tained a steady uniform character, and it is a re 
markable fact, that although his productions placed 
him in a high position before the people, and his 
dramatic ones attracted crowded houses every time 
they were played, he was less known to the mass of 
the people than any other literary man in Phila 
delphia. 

At one time, Dr. Bird became part owner and 
editor of the North American, a highly popular 
paper of Philadelphia ; and many of the able editorials, 
which tended to give it tone and character, were the 
productions of his classic pen. But he has gone to 
that " undiscovered country from whose bourn no 
traveller returns/ 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 427 

" His was the merit seldom shows 

Itself bedeok d with tinsel and fine clothes ; 
But, hermit like, tis oftener used to fly, 
And hide its beauties in obscurity." 

THE GLADIATOR. 

The first performance of this play was at the 
Arch Street Theatre, Philadelphia, on Monday even 
ing, October 24th, 1831. It was thus announced : 

ARCH STREET THEATRE. 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH, 1831. 

First night of the new prize tragedy, by Dr. Bird, called 
THE GLADIATOR. 

Mr. E. Forrest will appear in the character of Spartacus. 

The managers have the pleasure of announcing the first represen 
tation in this city of the new prize tragedy of The Gladiator, written 
by Dr. Bird, which was received in New York with unprecedented 
success. Neither pains nor expense have been spared to produce the 
tragedy with all possible splendor. The whole of the dresses, decora 
tions and mountings are new, and designed by Mr. Andrew J. Allen, 
the American costumer. 

The new scenery by Mr. Leslie. The arena scene being histori 
cally and magnificently set and arranged from the best authorities. 

This Evening 

THE GLADIATOR. 

The Prologue will be spoken by MR. THAYER. 

The Epilogue by Miss E. RIDDLE. 

MARCIUS LUCINIUS CRASSUS MR. DUFFY. 

LENTULUS MR. QUINN. 

Jovius MR. JONES. 

BRACCHIUS MR. HORTON. 

FLORUS, SON TO LENTULUS MR. J. E. MURDOCH. 

GLADIATORS. 

SPARTACUS MR. E. FORREST. 

PHASARIUS MR. J. R. SCOTT. 

SENONA MRS. STONE. 

JULIA Miss E. RIDDLE. 

Gladiators, 20 ; Roman Guards, 16 ; Lictors, 6 ; Patricians, 6 ; 
Ladies, 8 ; Female Slaves, 6 ; Children, 2. 

ORALOOSA. 

The play of Oraloosa was produced at the Arch 



428 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Street Theatre, on the 10th of October, 1831. On the 
same evening, Charles Kemble made his first appear 
ance at the Chestnut Street Theatre, as Hamlet. With 
attractions so equally balanced, the town was fairly 
divided. Everybody was anxious to see Mr. Kemble. 
whose name alone was sufficient to attract a crowded 
house, associated as it was with one of the brightest 
eras in the history of the English stage. On the 
other hand, Dr. Bird s great success in the Gladiator 
excited a no less degree of curiosity to witness his 
second attempt as a dramatic poet. Both theatres 
drew crowded houses for a succession of nights, du 
ring the respective engagements of Mr. Kemble and 
Mr. Forrest. The following is a copy of the original 
bill of the first performance : 

ARCH STREET THEATRE. 

MONDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 10TH, 1831, 

Will be presented the new Tragedy, written by Dr. Bird, called 
ORALOOSA. 

Founded on the cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru. 

With entire new South American scenery of the most gorgeous 
character ; splendid new costumes of Spanish and Indian style, from 
the most correct drawings by travelled artists and publications on the 
subject. 

A Tragedy, in five acts, entitled 

ORALOOSA ; 
OB, THE LAST OF THE INCAS. 

FRANCISCO PIZARRO DANIEL REED. 

FRANCISCO DE ALCANTARA JAMES E. MURDOCH. 

CARVOHAL CHARLES S. PORTER. 

DIEGO DE ALMAGRO JOHN R. SCOTT. 

DON CHRISTOVAL F. C. WEYMSS. 

SOTELA WILLIAM JONES. 

JUAN MR. SPRAGUE. 

VACA DE CASTRO MR. QUINN. 

MARCO CAP AC MR. HOUTON. 

ORALOOSA EDWIN FORREST. 

OC^ELLIA Miss ELIZA RIDDLE. 

FEMALE ATTENDANT MRS. BUCKLEY. 

A FRIAR . . JOHN RICE. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 499 

The prologue was written by Kichard Penn Smith, 
and spoken by Mr. Duffy ; the epilogue, written by 
a friend of the author s, was spoken by Miss Kiddle. 
The piece, however, did not increase the reputation 
of the author of the Gladiator ; something better was 
anticipated, and the play of Oraloosa fell beneath the 
previous productions of Dr. Bird s muse. Neither 
plot, incident, or dialogue, would bear comparison with 
the Gladiator. The audience was evidently disap 
pointed, and Mr. Forrest subsequently struck it from 
his roll of acting plays, remarking : " It was unworthy 
of the author, and would never produce anything but 
mortification to the actor." 

We think Mr. Forrest was too hasty in arriving 
at this conclusion, as Oraloosa certainly deserved no 
such censure. Its incidents are strikingly dramatic, 
and the young hero a character that is calculated 
to win the approbation of an audience. Had Mr. 
Forrest taken as much interest in Oraloosa as he did 
in the Gladiator, it would not have met this fate. 
On its first reception in New York, on the 7th of 
December, 1832, it was a most decided success. In 
the hands of that talented young actor, Edwin 
Adams, Oraloosa would find an able representative. 

THE BROKER OF BOGOTA. 

This followed soon after Oraloosa, which we consider 
the most finished of Dr. Bird s dramas. Viewed as 
a specimen of dramatic art, it surpasses all of his 
other pieces. All these plays were written expressly 
for Mr. Forrest. This great tragedy ranks in point 
of poetical and dramatic interest with the Lear of 
Shakespeare. Mr. Forrest produced the Broker of 



430 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Bogota during one of his splendid engagements in 
New York, at the "Bowery." In consequence of the 
Park Theatre being engaged for the Kembles , Woods , 
and Power, he accepted the " Bowery," where he had 
not played for four years. He opened there on the 
27th of November, 1833. This engagement closed on 
the 23rd of December. On the 5th of January, 1834, 
he commenced a new engagement, during which he 
played Jaffier, to Cooper s Pierre, and Mrs. McClure s 
Belvidere; also Pythias, to Cooper s Damon. Dr. 
Bird s fine tragedy, the Broker of Bogota, was brought 
out with great success on the 12th of January, 1834, 
with the following cast : 

BAPTISTA FEBRO MB. E. FORREST. 

ANTONIO DE CABRERO MR. H. WALLACK. 

MARQUIS DE PALMERA MR. H. GALE. 

FERNANDO MR. Gr. JONES. 

RAMON MR. INGERSOLL. 

FRANCISCO MR. CONNOR. 

MENDOZA MR. FARREN. 

PABLO MR. MCCLURE. 

JULIANA MRS. MCCLURE. 

LEONER MRS. FLYNN. 

With such a cast as this, a far inferior play would 
have succeeded, but the Broker of Bogota required 
just such a company to render it as perfect as true 
art is susceptible of imparting to the works of genius. 
Mr. Forrest frequently told us that he was compelled 
to forego the pleasure of producing this play, in con 
sequence of the paucity of talent in theatres in which 
he was called to play during his engagements. There 
is not a name in the above cast but is familiar to 
our readers. Six of the males even at that period, 
and long subsequent, were well-known stars, and the 
two ladies were alike celebrated for their talent, and 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 431 

one especially for her beauty. To her how applicable 
are these lines : 

" Twas such a face 

As Guido would have lov d to dwell upon ; 
But, oh ; the touches of his pencil, never 
Could paint her perfect beauty. In his home 
(Which once she did desert) I saw her last ; 

* Her brow was fair, but very pale, and look d 
Like stainless marble ; a touch methought would soil 
Its whiteness * *." 



CHAPTER XLI. 

ROBERT T. CONRAD. SKETCH OF HIS LIFE. HE STUD 
IES LAW. A POLITICIAN, POET, AND DRAMATIST. 

BECOMES AN EDITOR. WAS RECORDER OF THE 

NORTHERN LIBERTIES. IS APPOINTED JUDGE OF 

THE COURT OF QUARTER SESSIONS. IS ELECTED 

MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA. RESUMES 

THE PRACTICE OF THE LAW. JACK CADE. ITS 

GREAT SUCCESS. A COMPLIMENT TO OUR LITERA 
TURE. EXTRACTS FROM THE PLAY. G. H. MILES, 

AUTHOR OF MOHAMMED. 

TN another part of these Eeminiscences we have al- 
- luded to this gentleman and the play which immor 
talized his name. It may not be considered a repetition 
if we add something more to the memory of one who 
was so highly esteemed by all who knew him, more 
particularly as he added one more play to the dramatic 
library of our country, that has been, and ever will be, 
a credit to our literature. The following article was 
written by us a few days after his death ; and we deem 
it necessary to republish it, as it connects the gifted 



432 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

author of Jack Cade with the subject of these Remin 
iscences. We have, in speaking of this play, stated 
that its original title was Aylmere. 

"HON. ROBERT T. CONRAD." 

" One night 

Rack d by these memories, methought a voice 
Summon d me from my couch. Jack Cade. 

" The sudden death of the Hon. Robert T. Conrad, 
which occurred on Sunday evening, the 27th of June, 
1858, created a melancholy sensation throughout the 
community, among whom, for a long period of years, 
he held high and prominent positions. Indeed, we 
were scarcely prepared for such an announcement, for 
within a few days we saw him in the evident pos 
session of good health ; and we imagined the time was 
not far distant when the world of letters would again 
be charmed with some emanation from his gifted pen, 
conceived by a mind brilliant in thought, and glowing 
with genius ; but alas ! 

" His spirit, with a bound, 
Burst its enchaining clay ; 
His tent, at sunrise, on the ground 
A darken d ruin lay. 

"Robert T. Conrad was born in the city of Phila 
delphia, June 10th, 1810. His father, John Conrad, 
was known by the writer of this, in his active business 
day, as a book publisher, and in after years as one of the 
Aldermen of the Northern Liberties. At a proper age, 
young Conrad was placed in the law office of Thomas 
Kittera, Esq., one of the most accomplished lawyers of 
his day. He was a gentleman of refined manners, 
pleasing address, and possessed a voice that set words 
to music. With such a man young Conrad studied 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 433 

law, and received those lessons which stamped the 
gentleman in after years; and although the mildew 
of the dark shade of life may blight the impress of 
the man, still the mind and its cultivation remain, 
even amid the ruin and wreck it caused. 

" Young, ardent, full of poetry, imaginative and 
fiery, young Conrad looked upon the drudgery of a law 
office, as a sort of mechanical exercise, in which the 
mind had little to do. With this idea, he not unfre- 
quently perpetrated a verse of poetry, instead of copy 
ing a page from Blackstone. His first attempt at any 
thing more elaborate than a poem, was his Conrad of 
Naples, which was produced at the Arch Street Thea 
tre. It was played on the evening of the 17th of Jan 
uary, 1832, with Mr. James E. Murdoch as the hero. 
John R. Scott also enacted the part afterwards. Con 
rad of Naples was a youthful effort, but gave promise 
of something in the dramatic way that would reflect 
credit on its author and the city of his birth. That he 
achieved, and his great play of Jack Cade places him 
first among our native dramatists. 

" He was also a frequent contributor to the various 
periodicals of the day, and started a daily paper called 
the Commercial Intelligencer, which was remarkable 
for the spirit and pungency of its political articles. 
The Intelligencer was afterwards united with the Phila 
delphia Gazette, and Mr. Conrad continued for some 
time as co-editor of the joint concern, with Condy 
Kaguet, Esq. A few years afterwards, he produced a 
second tragedy at the Walnut Street Theatre, entitled, 
Aylrnere. This piece was altered and adapted to the 
peculiar powers of Mr. Forrest, and under the name 
of Jack Cade, was produced, with the most astounding 



434 LIFE OP EDWIN FORREST. 

success, at the Arch Street Theatre, June 16th, 1841. 
Robert T. Conrad s fame (if not his popularity) was 
predicated on this play it brought him immediately 
before the public in a new and brilliant light it placed 
him on the list of those who had made a world within a 
world, at the head of which stood its creator WILLIAM 
SHAKESPEARE. It gave him position, character and 
popularity; and had he properly used all these, the 
name of Conrad would have been, in its connection 
with our literature, the Addison of our country. But 
we will not speak of causes, the effects of which lessen 
the labor of the historian." 

When Jack Cade was produced, its style was crit 
icised, and its language commented upon. All this 
was, no doubt, evoked by that spirit of rivalry which 
existed here, at that time, between the friends of 
American and British literature. 

In 1845, the author of this article published a small 
volume, entitled u The Dramatic Authors of America." 
Speaking of Robert T. Conrad, in connection with 
Jack Cade, we observed : 

" He has written much occasional poetry, and several 
of his pieces bear internal evidence of the possession of no 
ordinary poetical talent. The lines on a Blind Boy solicit 
ing charity by playing on a flute, are worthy of the pen of 
Wordsworth. Mr. Conrad is better known as a political 
writer than for his labors in the flowery paths of literature. 
He writes with a pen of steel, dipped in aquafortis a 
dangerous talent, and one which, when freely exercised, 
seldom garners any other than a harvest of tares. We 
look upon this gentleman as possessing talent of no ordi 
nary calibre. He thinks deeply, sees clearly, and is not 
disposed to imbibe received opinions, because endorsed by 
weighty names, without first casting them into the alembic 
of his own mind. His prose is distinguished for its per 
spicuity, fullness of its sentence, happy illustration and 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 435 

forcible expression ; and if he were to turn his attention to 
history, political or otherwise, we have no doubt that he 
would produce such a work as would at once secure him 
an enviable place among the literary characters of the 
country. We understand that he has commenced a ro 
mance founded on important incidents of the Revolution, 
and look forward with impatience for its completion, know 
ing that whether it prove popular or otherwise, it will be 
no ordinary production. 

" Jack Cade is undoubtedly destined to rank among 
the very highest dramatic productions of our language. 
The plot, though elaborate, is simple and undeveloped ; 
the incidents are striking and effective; the characters are 
drawn with the utmost vigor, and contrasted with admira 
ble skill; the sentiments are noble and manly, and the 
diction is marked with the truest perceptions of poetical 
excellence. There are passages in this piece which would 
not suffer by comparison with the choicest extracts from 
the ablest of the older dramatists. 

" It is to be regretted that the state of our dramatic 
literature is so low as to keep such productions from tho 
stage as the mind of Conrad could furnish. The true 
spirit of dramatic poetry breathes through this beautiful 
play, and it is with regret we say, being in heart and soul 
an American, that the careless, cold, apathetic feeling mani 
fested for genuine poetry among us, is one of the chief 
causes of the decadency of the drama, and the absence of 
men of learning and of genius from the dramatic walks. 
We have in another portion of this work stated that to 
Mr. Edwin Forrest was this piece indebted for its existence 
upon the stage. And we venture to say, that the vilest 
trash of the English school will be more applauded by the 
audience when enacted by a regular stock company, than 
would Judge Conrad s Aylmere in the absence of Mr. For 
rest ! All writers have an individual as well as a national 
pride. Hence, to write a play for an actor, depending on 
the uncertainty of life, and his popularity, for your fame, is 
certainly not a very enviable situation, or a pleasing posi 
tion for a sensitive man. Such is our dramatic character 
such the state of its literature ! " 

Alas ! it is so still ! Our readers are all, or nearly 
all, familiar with the history of Robert T. Conrad. He 



436 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

was one of us in the great party question whether 
native or foreign influence was to control us as a nation 
and a people. How far and to what extent this ques 
tion was carried, and its results, our readers are equally 
familiar with. 

After his retirement from the Commercial Intel 
ligencer, he resumed the profession of the law. He at 
one time was Recorder of the Northern Liberties, and 
shortly afterwards was made one of the Judges of 
the old Court of Quarter Sessions, in connection with 
Judges Barton and Doran. 

At one period after his exodus from the bench, he 
became a constant contributor to the columns of the 
North American, and other papers. The beauty of his 
style, the elegance of his diction, and the spirit of true 
poetry which meandered through his writings, gave 
character and dignity to the papers that published them. 

In June 1854, he became the candidate of the 
American party for Mayor, and was elected by a large 
majority. 

In 1856, Governor Pollock appointed him Judge 
of the Quarter Sessions. When his term was out, he 
resumed the practice of the law, and the equally pleas 
ing task, at least to him, of wooing the muses as evi 
denced in the publication of some very pretty poetic 
effusions. But death stepped in, put out the light, 
and all was dark ! Name and fame do not go out how 
ever, with the light of life. They are " extinguished, 
not decayed." 

Judge Conrad has passed from amongst us ; and 
his name, which was associated with the drama and 
poetry, and all that is pleasing in art and nature, is 
now to be spoken of in connection with 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 437 

" The knell, the shroud, the mattock and the grave ; 
The deep, damp vault, the darkness, and the worm." 

Yet, beyond all this, there is a brighter home to 
which his spirit long ere this, has winged its flight ; 
and we are left to recall many, many scenes and pleas 
ant hours that were passed in his company while living. 

What is termed Mr. Forrest s version of Aylmere, 
or Jack Cade, was first performed in New York, at the 
Park Theatre, on the 24th of May, 1841, with the fol 
lowing cast : 

AYLMERE (JACK CADE) MR. FORREST. 

CLIFFORD MR. MURDOCH. 

LORD SAY MR. WHEATLEY. 

BUCKINGHAM MR. A. ANDREW. 

FRIAR LACY MR. NICKINSON. 

WAT WORTHY MR. CHIPPENDALE. 

MOWBRAY MR. C. W. CLARKE. 

COURTNEY MR. W A. CHAPMAN. 

JACK STRAW MR. BELLAMY. 

DICK PEMBROKE MR. FISHER. 

ARCHBISHOP MR. BEDFORD. 

MARIAMNE MRS. GEO. JONES. 

WIDOW CADE MRS. WHEATLEY. 

KATE Miss MCBRIDE. 

The tragedy of Jack Cade contains many passages 
of rare beauty. We annex the following as being 
peculiarly beautiful, and at the same time highly 
dramatic : 

EXTRACTS FROM JACK CADE. 

AYLMERE IN THE COLISEUM. 

" One night, 

Rack d by these memories, methought a voice 
Summon d me from my couch. I rose went forth. 
The sky seem d a dark gulf where fiery spirits 
Sported ; for o er the concave the quick lightning 
Quiver d, but spoke not. In the breathless gloom, 
I sought the Coliseum, for I felt 
The spirits of a manlier age were forth : 
And there, against the mossy wall I lean d. 
And thought upon my country. Why was I 



438 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Idle and she in chains ? The storm now answer d I 
It broke as Heaven s high masonry were crumbling. 
The heated walls nodded and frown d i the glare, 
And the wide vault, in one unpausing peal, 
Throbb d with the angry pulse of Deity. 

Lacy. Shrunk you not mid these terrors ? 

Aylmere. No, not I. 
I felt I could amid this hurly laugh, 
And laughing, do such deeds as fireside fools 
Turn pale to think on. 

The heavens did speak like brothers to my soul ; 
And not a peal that leapt along the vault, 
But had an echo in my heart. Nor spoke 
The clouds alone : for, o er the tempest din, 
I heard the genius of my country shriek 
Amid the ruins, calling on her son, 
On me ! I answered her in shouts ; and knelt 
Even there, in darkness, mid the falling ruins, 
Beneath the echoing thunder-trump and swore 
(The while my father s pale form, welted with 
The death-prints of the scourge, stood by and smiled), 
I swore to make the bondman free ! * * * 

SAY AND ALMERE. 

Say. Sirrah, I am a peer ! 

Aylmere. And so 

Am I. Thy peer, and any man s ! Ten times 
Thy peer, an thou rt not honest. 

Say. Insolent. 
My fathers were made noble by a king. 

Aylmere. And mine by a God ! Their people are 

God s own 

Nobility ; and wear their stars not on 
Their breasts but in them ! But go to ; I trifle. 

Say. Dost not fear justice ? 

Aylmere. The justice of your court ? 
Nursed in blood ! A petty falcon which 
You fly at weakness ! I do know your justice. 
Crouching and meek to proud and purpled Wrong, 
But tiger tooth d and ravenous o er pale Right ! " 

There are other passages in this play of a very 
high order of poetry, which would not suffer in com 
parison with the choicest extracts from the ablest of 
the oldest dramatists. 

As rendered by Mr. Forrest, in tones that have 
never been equalled by any actor on the stage, their 
beauties became sublime. We read of Demosthenes, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 439 

and also of his defects, and how he had to substitute 
pebbles for the loss of teeth ! If Demosthenes was 
a great orator with pebbles for teeth, what was Mr. 
Forrest with fine teeth ? The public speaker, whether 
he be simply an orator, a preacher, or an actor, must 
be natural and easy in his delivery, otherwise the 
effect he intended to make is lost. Shakespeare, who 
never lost sight of an occasion to give advice and 
instruct, thus speaks of one who lacked the power 
to appear natural, though ashamed : 

" Pleads he in earnest ? Look upon his face : 
His eyes drop no tears ; his prayers are jest ; 
His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast : 
He prays but faintly, and would be denied : 
We pray with heart and soul, 

Heart and soul ! " 

Yes, this is the great actor s cue. 

G. H. MILES MOHAMMED. 

Mr. Forrest made several efforts to procure an 
other play suitable to his peculiar style ; but as our 
dramatic writers did not feel disposed to run the risk 
of failure, the attempt was not made to meet the 
views of the actor, until he publicly offered a prize 
of three thousand dollars for a play written by an 
American, which would be well adapted to represen 
tation ; and promising one thousand dollars for that 
play among the number (provided none realized his 
first intention) which should possess the highest lit 
erary merit. In answer to this invitation, Mr. Forrest 
received upwards of seventy plays. Each one of these 
he carefully read. None of them answered his origi 
nal design. He, however, awarded to Mr. Gr. H. 
Miles, one thousand dollars for his play of Moharn- 



440 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

med, deeming it to be the best literary production 
in the collection. 

The reader will not be surprised at the above state 
ment if he is at all conversant with the nature of the 
subject. The production of a successful play, not only 
requires ample leisure and freedom from all care in 
reference to subsistence, during the progress of com 
position ; but also a more rare and difficult com 
bination of intellectual qualities than belong to most 
other species of composition. First there must be 
genius the poet s heaven-born fire ; the grace and 
beauty of dramatic versification ; a familiarity with 
classical, historical, and mythological learning ; the well 
trained powers of the practiced thinker and writer; 
and a deep insight into the hidden springs of human 
action, feeling, and passion ; while other attainments, 
less lofty or imposing, are equally indispensable a 
knowledge of stage effect ; a constructive ability where 
by to avoid impossible or absurd situations, which 
would violate the known relations of time and space ; 
the resources of inventive genius which furnished con 
stant novelties and striking surprises on the stage, and 
an ability to intersperse the grave and gay, the solemn, 
the ludicrous, the pathetic, and the sublime, in judi 
cious variety. To possess all these qualifications, falls 
only to the lot of the highest, and therefore the rarest, 
dramatic genius. 

If these and many other qualities are essential to 
the successful dramatist, need we wonder that so few 
succeed ? Need we be surprised that Mr. Forrest 
sought, in vain, among the seventy original plays 
before him, for one in which he felt he could do him 
self or his design justice ? 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 441 

The selection of this play from seventy others, and 
not calculated for stage representation at that, is a sad 
commentary on the dramatic literature of our country. 
Still, Mr. Forrest deserved much credit for awarding 
this sum for the best literary play out of the 
seventy offered. The following specimen of the au 
thor s style will afford our readers some idea of his 
poetic abilities. Its dramatic construction will be 
better understood, when we say it totally failed when it 
was brought out by Mr. Neaffie at the Lyceum 
Brougham s Theatre, New York. Mr. Forrest loaned 
the play to Mr. Neaffie, who produced it on the 27th 
September, 1852. Mohammed, Mr. Neaffie ; Omar, 
Mr. Lynne ; Cadyah, Mrs. Maeder. It was performed 
but three times. 

EXTRACT FROM MOHAMMED. 

Abubeker (to Saad and Osaid]. " Obey the prophet. 
Moll. Teach them how to do it. 

Exeunt Abubeker, Saad, Osaid. 

Remorse or poison, which ? by Heaven, I know not 
All, I half repent, it is remorse ! 
Can poison rend bowels of the past, 
And drag out blood, and blasphemy, and lust, 
And mix them with the brain ? Can poison shape 
Imposture with its long and demon train, 
The slaughtered Bedouin and the ravished virgin 
A future pledged to sacrifice and fraud 
Insulted Heaven and deluded earth ? 
Poison ? O God ! twere honey to remorse ! 
Avenging Allah ! double all my pains ; 
Heap pang on pang, till crushed affliction groans ! 
Make every nerve an adder but shut out 
The spectral, impious landscape of the past 1 " 



CHAPTER XLII. 

MR. FORREST AS A READER. HAMLET. HIS CONCEP 
TION OF THE CHARACTER. WONDERFUL POWERS 

OF DELINEATION. HIS LAST APPEARANCE BEFORE 

THE PUBLIC AS AN ACTOR AND A READER. 

A MONG the ancients it was a fundamental prin- 
--*- ciple, and frequently inculcated " Quod omni 
bus disciplinis et artibus debet esse instructus orator ; " 
that the orator ought to be an accomplished scholar, 
and conversant in every part of learning. October 
15th, 1872, Mr. Forrest gave his first reading at the 
Academy of Music, in the city of Philadelphia. Con 
trary to general expectation, the house was only mod 
erately filled ; but those that were present composed 
the intellect of the city, and applauded the reader, as 
they were wont to applaud the actor. The editor of 
the Sunday Dispatch, speaking of Mr. Forrest s ad 
vent as a reader, on the evenings of October 15th and 
18th, said : 

" The audiences on both occasions were small ; and yet 
there is a vast number of persons to whom religious 
scruples forbid attendance at the theatre, who were not 
strangers to Mr. Forrest s fame, and were presumably de 
sirous to see him. That they did not fill the Academy is 
perhaps as much due to bad management as to any decline 
in Mr. Forrest s popularity ; and, indeed, the field seemed 
to be so wide and fertile that, only a year or two ago, Mr. 
T. B. Pugh had offered to pay Mr. Forrest twelve hundred 

(442) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 443 

dollars a night for a series of readings under his manage 
ment. Similar non-success attended Mr. Forrest s read 
ings in other cities and towns. He appeared in Wilming 
ton, Delaware, unsuccessfully, and afterwards in Steinway 
Hall, New York, where he read Hamlet, on November 
19th, to about four hundred people, and Othello, on the 
22nd, to an audience of not more than two hundred and 
fifty. His final appearance was on November 30th, in 
Boston." 

Hamlet on the stage, and Hamlet at the desk, be 
come distinct characters, unless the reader can embody 
within himself the whole dramatis personce of this 
great tragedy. To illustrate the peculiar characteris 
tics of this play, the reader should not only possess the 
faculty of imitation, so as to give individuality to the 
characters, but also the power of illustrating by action 
those questionable passages in the play which have ex 
ercised the mind of commentators and actors ever since 
its first introduction on the stage (1596). These requi 
sites are so essential to the correct rendition of the va 
rious characters in the tragedy, that no one, unless he is 
a Shakesperian reader, should undertake it. Few act 
ors, however, possess the power of making Hamlet a 
stage feature ; failing in this, how would it be with 
them in the reading of it ? The man who comes be 
fore an audience to read Hamlet, should thoroughly 
understand, and be enabled to present the character, as 
it is, and not as he imagines it should be. He must be 
able to distinguish the difference between the assumed 
madness of Hamlet, and that which, to a certain ex 
tent, existed before, as evinced in that great soliloquy, 
.wherein he meditates suicide, the dawn of insanity, 
commencing : 

" Oh ! that this too, too solid flesh would melt." 



444 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

This distinction is a nice one, and unless the reader 
has fully analyzed the character, he will not, nor can 
he .convey to an audience the cause of his actions, or 
give a cue to his motives. To account for Hamlet s 
harshness to Ophelia, it is necessary that the mental 
condition of the prince should be considered as a cause 
for his unjust as well as unmanly conduct. The mind 
of Hamlet is weak weak, because it is diseased ; hence, 
not being healthy, his acts are but the effect of a de 
fect, or as he says of himself " Sense is apoplexed." 
He even goes further, and says : that he has not only 
"the outward pageants and the signs of grief, but I 
have that within which passeth show." If the reader 
overlooks these peculiarities and gives us words and 
actions merely, under the impression that Hamlet 
simply assumes madness he will fail. Goethe says 
of Hamlet : 

" A beautiful, high, noble, pure, moral being, without 
the mental strength which makes the hero, travels under a 
burden which crushes him to the earth, one which he can 
neither bear nor cast aside. Every duty is sacred to him, 
but this is too heavy. The impossible was demanded of 
him not that which was in itself impossible, but that 
which was impossible to him. How he writhes and turns, 
filled with anguish : strides backwards and forwards, ever 
being reminded, ever reminding himself, and at last losing 
sight of his purpose, without ever having been made 
happy." 

Hamlet, as read by Mr. Forrest, was one of the 
most beautiful and striking illustrations of the charac 
ter that was ever given. He stood before the audience 
the embodiment of the whole play, giving to each 
character its distinctive feature, tone of voice, changing 
from the deep philosophy of words, as uttered by Hani- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 445 

let, to the more light and less harmonic of that of the 
others, giving to each a different tone, thus calling up 
the creations of Shakespeare s fancy in a series of pic 
tures, as striking as they were artistic. Thus, by the 
mere effort of genius, blended with art, the dramatis 
personce of this noble tragedy, the illusions of the stage 
were transferred to the desk. The scene where Hamlet 
encounters the Ghost was not only read by Mr. For 
rest, but acted ; his every look, action, and tone of voice 
invested it with thrilling interest. Beautiful as the 
language of Hamlet is, it was doubly enhanced by the 
voice of the reader and his impassioned eloquence. 
Another scene we particularly refer to, is the interview 
Hamlet has with his mother, in what is called the 
" Closet Scene." This is one of the most extraordinary 
dramatic scenes that is to be found in any play that 
was ever written. Let us more particularly speak of it, 
as it has always been considered the test of an actor s 
power. What can be more striking, and at the same 
time so startling, to a mother, when thus addressed by 
a son! 

" Look here, upon this picture and on this ; 
The counterpart presentment of two brothers. 
See what a grace was seated on this brow ! 
Hyperion s curl s, the front of Jove himself ; 
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command ; 
A station like the herald Mercury, 
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hilL 

* * * This was your husband ! Look now what follows 
Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear, 
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes ? " etc., etc. 

The Queen, overcome with his terrible denuncia 
tion, exclaims : 

" No more ! " 

Hamlet proceeds: 



446 LIFE OF EDWIN FOREEST. 

" A murderer and a villain ; a slave, etc. * * * 
A cut-purse of the empire and the rule, 
That from the shelf the precious diadem stole, 
And put it in his pocket. 
A king of shreds and patches." [Enter Ghost.~\ 

It is here the wonderful power of the actor displays 
itself. The sudden transition from the stern and pa 
thetic, the angry and impassioned, to that of horror at 
the appearance of the Ghost, can only be realized when 
the reading of the words are accompanied by the voice 
and action of the actor, for we contend that no one but 
the most accomplished of the profession can do justice 
to Shakespeare. Hamlet sees the Ghost, his mother 
does not. Struck with the altered looks of her son, 
and his strange actions, she exclaims : 

"Alas! he s mad!" 

Then when she says : 

" Whereon do you look ? " 

And he answers : 

" On him ! on him ! Look you, how pale he glares ! " eto. 

The Queen asks : 

" To whom do you speak this ? 

Hamlet. Do you see nothing there ? 

Queen. Nothing at all. Yet all that is I see. 

Hamlet. Nor did you nothing hear ? 

Queen. No, nothing but ourselves. 

Hamlet. WTiy look you there ! Look, how it steals away I 
My father in his habit as he liv d ! 
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal ! " 

As Mr. Forrest read this portion, with eyes fixed, 
finger pointed, the audience instinctively followed the 
motion of the latter, and looked towards the " portal," 
to see if the power of the actor had realized this won 
derful picture as drawn by the author by conjuring up 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 447 

the ghost. For a moment the illusion seemed reality ; 
the next it passed away with the flash of light so won 
derfully thrown upon it by this great master of the 
dramatic art. Such was Mr. Forrest s reading of the 
play of Hamlet. 

Mr. Forrest s reading in New York was extolled by 
intelligent critics, but not appreciated by the many. 
In an article, written by Mr. T. H. Morrell, of New 
York, published November 20th, 1872, speaking of 
Mr. Forrest s advent as a reader, he said : 

"Within the past two months Mr. Forrest has given 
readings from Shakespeare in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Wil 
mington (Del.), and other cities, and last evening for the 
first time in New York. Everywhere, with one exception 
only, he has been greeted with genuine heartiness of feel 
ing and tokens of pleasure. The exception referred to 
was, it is to be regretted, that of our neighbor, Brooklyn. 
On the occasion of the veteran s appearance at the Acade 
my of Music there, an audience, select and appreciative, 
assembled to honor one whose memory, associated with 
the drama, had been enshrined in their hearts as being 
connected with the most inspiring and exalted emotions. 

u But it was a Spartan few that met there; not such 
an assemblage as the city of Brooklyn should have gath 
ered together to render homage to the genius of that 
noble artist, who, still in the full possession of his intellec 
tual power, his superb voice strong, resonant, musical, 
as of yore with his emotional nature deepened by the 
teachings and sorrows of time had re-appeared before 
them to give an interpretation to the grandest poetry ever 
penned by mortal man. And those who were present, 
will not soon forget the tones of that voice, when, at the 
conclusion of the reading, Mr. Forrest, with thanks for 
the marked attention that had been bestowed, bade our 
sister city respectfully farewell. 

" Forrest s reception last night partook very much of 
the character of an ovation. That welcome, so cordial 
and so unmistakable in its sincerity, has proved, to the 
credit of our city, which, on the night of the 23rd of June, 



448 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

1826, hailed with delight and enthusiasm this our actor, 
as he placed his foot on the first round of young ambi 
tion s ladder, that in his declining years, with all those 
wondrous powers yet unimpaired, that have swayed and 
charmed the myriads who have gathered near his throne, 
to the credit of New York, let it be said, that by her citi 
zens, Edwin Forrest, the Garrick of America, is not to 
day forgotten ! " 

Another critic, not very friendly, it was supposed, 
to the actor, wrote the following : 

" It is our deliberate opinion that Mr. Forrest not only 
cannot play Hamlet, but that he does not understand what 
Hamlet means. His utter incompatibility with the part 
was shown in many ways as this reading proceeded not 
the least significant token being what we may describe as 
a ponderous commonplace of personality, relieved now 
and then by a kind of suppressed ferociousness. It is 
our choice, however, not to linger on this point. The 
strife as to Mr. Forrest s Hamlet is an old one, and it is 
very idle now. We do not wish to disturb any person s 
belief, and would express our own since the necessity 
arises in the kindest manner. It was a great pleasure to 
hear Mr. Forrest s magnificent voice. Its soft tones are 
delicious, and its strength remains unimpaired. That poe 
try which hovers about the sound of words he could 
always feel; and this he conveyed last night. There were 
no recondite or unusual readings. Mr. Forrest says in 
the dead vast? instead of in the dead waste," 1 and also 
makes Hamlet apostrophize, thou dead corse, instead of 
the more common, but not more authentic, thou dread 
corse. Other peculiarities there were none unless we 
denote the irrelevant mood, in the first soliloquy, indicated 
by the colloquial accentuation of my father s brother. 
and the altogether foreign stroke of satire on the word 
philosophy, in the well-known speech to Horatio about 
the things in Heaven and earth. These, though, were 
peculiarities of meaning, not of text, and the discussion of 
them would lead us from the direct path, which is to say, 
simply, that Mr. Forrest gave a reading of Hamlet, in 
which his physical advantage of voice was finely mani 
fested, and in which he furnished several exceedingly fine 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 449 

bits of elocution without, as we think, shedding any new 
light either upon Shakespeare s great play, or upon the 
generally accepted critical understanding of his idea of it. 
A reading by this gentleman of Alison s History of 
Europe, or Baxter s Call, would be equally impressive 
with his reading of Hamlet." 

The last appearance of Edwin Forrest before the 
public, as a reader, and never again to appear as an 
actor, was in Boston, on the evening of Saturday, 
November 30th, 1872. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

THE LIBRARY. DESCRIPTION OF THE PICTURE GAL 
LERY. RELICS. CURIOSITIES. SHAKESPEARE S 

CORNER. SAD EVENTS ANTICIPATED. PERSONAL 

RECOLLECTIONS. THE LOST FOLIO. LOVE OF POE 
TRY. LINES ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND. 

WE have alluded to Mr. Forrest s library and pic 
ture gallery in a former chapter, and as it was 
the scene of many happy hours we spent with him, 
and his picture gallery the subject for mutual com 
ments, opinions and criticisms, we will devote a little 
more space to speak of both. The first was probably 
more complete in every department of literature than 
any other private library in the country. We say was, 
for the most important portion of it the dramatic, no 
longer exists. 

No one of refinement and taste with the means to 
gratify both, could possibly neglect the works of art in 
connection with that of literature. The intimate and 
28 



450 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

indissoluble connection which subsists between the 
Fine Arts in general, and practically between Poetry 
and Painting, which for that reason, are demonstrated 
Sister Arts, together with the immediate reference, 
which this latter branch of the Fine Arts has to the 
stage, will, it is presumed, fully justify us in connect 
ing Mr. Forrest with every thing, which so essentially 
contributes to embrace the attractions of scenic rep 
resentations. 

Some two years ago, accompanied by several ladies, 
we visited the distinguished actor, for the purpose of 
showing the ladies his splendid collection of books, 
paintings, and other works of art. As the following 
account of the visit embraces nearly all the objects of 
interest, both in the library and the gallery, we give 
it as it originally appeared in one of the Philadelphia 
papers : 

A WALK THROUGH THE ART GALLERY AND LIBRARY IN 

THE MANSION OF EDWIN FORREST, ESQ. 

BY MISS L. L. REES. 

" There is no study more interesting than that which 
traces the progress of the arts and sciences from the ear 
liest stage of rude and yet efficient workmanship, down 
to the beautiful and too often delicate handicraft of the 
present day. 

" Being a devoted admirer of relics, not (I may as well 
state by way of parenthesis) easily gulled by the million 
specimens that came over in the Mayflower, nor Washing 
ton s many body-servants, I spent a very pleasant after 
noon, with several agreeable friends, in walking through the 
spacious library and well-arranged picture gallery of Mr. 
Edwin Forrest s palatial residence, while the great trage 
dian performed admirably the part of cicerone. 

" We stood for a few moments before a case in which 
rested a Scottish claymore, and fancy carried us back to 
the blood-stained field of Culloden; there was also the 
sword which Talma, the greatest of French actors wielded 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 451 

on the mimic stage, and there was also the original knife 
which, on the world s stage, bears the name of its inventor, 
Colonel Bowie ; a clumsy two-barrelled pistol lay there, a 
silent memento of the Revolutionary war, alongside of a 
cane once in the possession of Washington ; while another 
handsome cane, a present to Mr. Forrest, and the hoof of 
the celebrated trotter, Edwin Forrest, will, in the lapse of 
years, become relics for the future antiquary. 

" A complete suit of ancient armor brought before our 
mind s eye the halls of a baronial castle, while pieces of 
armor, exact copies of those in the tower of London, 
hanging on the walls, added to the illusion, and we were 
no longer modern damsels, but ladyes of the age of chiv 
alry, expectant of the tournament. 

" A quaint and strangely-carved Prie Dieu, from an old 
monastery, might have told us of many a^n agonizing 
prayer rising from its desk to a prayer-answering God, 
and the Conversion of St. Paul, represented by the 
carving on its dark panels, grotesque as it seems to us, 
might have whispered Hope to the suppliant. 

" We held in our hands a black-lettered Bible, printed 
in the year 1578; and in this connection I might as well 
mention Mr. Forrest s most precious book, which is kept 
in a glass case, and of which he said, If this house was 
burning he would want this book saved, if all else per 
ished ; the first folio edition of Shakespeare s works, 
dated 1623. 

"A pearl-backed missal, an inch and a half long and an 
inch wide, claimed our attention. The type was perfectly 
clear and distinct, and I should think the book would 
prove quite a convenience to church-goers. 

"A carved high-backed settle of sturdy oak, which has 
done duty since 1620, interested us, and we wished some 
magician s wand would roll back the curtains of the past 
and let us trace the history of that piece of furniture. 
Just imagine the love scenes, the conspiracies, the part 
ings, which it had witnessed; and yet it stood solemn, 
grim, and ancient, sub silentio. 

"We saw the original portrait of Nell Gwynne, the 
famous beauty of her time; but I can safely say that Phil 
adelphia belles can boast of equally fine faces. Perhaps 
it was the manner which fascinated, which was the one 
charm of the dark Cleopatra. 



452 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" Also, the copy of a gorgeous altar-piece, painted by 
Raphael, at the order of a duke, who presented it to the 
church in commemoration of the preservation of his life 
during a battle. Of course, the duke himself figured in 
the memorial picture. Copies from Murillo, exhibiting 
his varied style the solemn and the comic were seen in 
that collection from all art galleries of the world. 

"The last picture from Gilbert Stuart s failing fingers, a 
portrait of Mr. Forrest, was an interesting remembrance 
of the painter, exhibiting his rare talent even in old age, 
but as a likeness it was a failure. 

" Among other relics of the past are two statues, 
representing Tragedy and Comedy, which once sentinelled 
the entrance to the Old Drury/ in Chestnut above Sixth, 
now no more, and are now the presiding deities of a neat 
little theatre fitted up by Mr. Forrest in his mansion. 

" A devotee to the memory of William Shakespeare, the 
tragedian possesses every book or picture which contains 
any item of interest in reference to the Bard of Avon, and 
in his library we saw the plays of the immortal dramatist, 
complete in sixteen volumes, published in 1865, printed in 
clear type, on massive paper, which cost five hundred dol 
lars. Only one hundred and fifty copies were struck off, 
and then the types were destroyed, making this book a 
rare one for posterity. 

" The statue of Mr. Forrest, carved from fine white 
marble, weighing over three tons, and in height six feet 
and a half from the pedestal, represents him as Coriolanus. 

" The graceful folds of the drapery, the perfect delinea 
tion of the muscles, the symmetry of the figure, and the 
striking resemblance of feature, make it a correct specimen 
of the perfection to which the sculptor s art has arrived. 

" We could trace the progress of photography also, 
while we gazed at Mr. Forrest as King Lear, Macbeth, 
Othello, Richelieu, Hamlet, Richard the Third, and Meta- 
mora each picture the counterpart of the being the 
genius of authors had evoked. But the triumph of the 
art which makes the sun its workman was a life-size 
photograph of Edwin Forrest. 

" So perfect, with hat in hand, as if making a morning 
call, you almost expected to see the other hand move 
toward yours in friendly greeting. 

"Portraits of others whose names were household 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 453 

words in the mimic world greeted us at every step, until 
we felt as if we were ghosts haunting this home of the 
living. 

" But now we approach the gem of the collection. A 
little, laughing rivulet, flowing through the forest shades, 
with a gleam of sunlight edging its way through the green 
leaves, dashing against the tree s brown trunk, throwing 
its golden sheen on the rippling water ; but in its glitter 
ing way it falls upon the light brown hair of a little girl, 
making it a beauteous auburn ; it kisses the bare neck and 
gilds the white garment which she holds daintly up, while 
the tender little feet touch delicately the cold, shaded 
water. Another little girl, sitting neath the shadow of 
the tree, has just commenced at shoe and stocking, and 
when disrobed, she, too, can venture for a wade in the 
brook. 

" The pen is but a poor substitute for the artist s 
pencil, so when I say that the present owner has been 
offered eight thousand dollars in gold for this painting, 
the production of Meyer, a German artist, I am giving 
my readers a better appreciation of its value than my 
meagre description attempts to do. 

" Morning, Noon and Evening, from the pencil of Mr. 
Bellowes, gives the gradations of human life in three 
beautiful landscapes. 

" First, we have the river ; a boat moored to the shore, 
the village church, with its modest spire, in the distance, 
toward which are moving the christening party. All 
nature is glowing with the balmy breath of Spring on this 
lovely morning, when the little babe will receive the ben 
ediction of the baptismal rite. 

" Next, we see the same river, and from thence to the 
shore is stepping the bride in her pure dress and orange 
flowers, to be married in the same church which wit 
nessed her baptism. The glowing sun betokens the noon 
tide hour, the ploughed fields on the hill-side, the busy 
Summer time, and life s youth, full of happiness, is be 
fore us. 

" Now we stand before the river again, but it ripples 
no longer in the sunlight; the unbroken surface of ice re 
flects only the silver crescent in the winter s sky. No 
boat is moored to the snow-clad shore, but from the ice 
bound river, over the white covered earth, comes the 



454 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

funeral procession, wending its way to the desolate-looking 
church, that the solemn service for the dead may be re 
cited over the babe of the Spring morning, the bride of 
Summer noon, and the corpse of the Winter evening; 
while, bowed with age and grief, walks as chief mourner 
the widowed husband. 

" Come with us now to ancient Rome. The immense 
amphitheatre is crowded to witness a gladiatorial show. 
But where is he who is to make the sports for lords and 
ladies ? Asleep in his dungeon, his naked dagger by his 
side. His brawny chest displays his muscular power his 
ghastly face and pallid lips betoken the dread of the com 
ing hour and yet he sleeps ! In the next cell you oan see 
but the claws of the ferocious lion, who soon is to be the 
victor or victim. 

" Across the limbs of the sleeper falls the streak of 
light from the opening door where stands the Lanistoe to 
bid him to his doom. Oh, close the door ! Shut from us 
all sights and sounds of a barbarous past, and let not even 
a streak of its faint light mingle with the golden beams of 
the present, nor throw its sickly glare across a brighter 
future." 

Strange that so soon after his death the most in 
teresting and highly-treasured portion of his library so 
identified with his own stage history, and set apart to 
be incorporated with his memory, should be destroyed 
by a fire that took place in his library, and pass away 
with him. Go out as it were with his life, leaving 
scarcely a dramatic work left, or at least of any ac 
count, toward which the old veterans of the stage 
could gaze upon and say : " These were the pride of 
our noble patron these the silent, though faithful 
friends who were with him in his lonely home." A 
few scattered leaves, essays, etc., on the drama re 
mains, it is true ; but where are the works of the great 
masters ? Alas ! they are no longer a part of the vast 
library of Edwin Forrest. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 455 

After the fire we visited the scene of destruction ; 
there among the debris, with its crisped and charred 
leaves, not a page of which was complete, lay the folio 
of Shakespeare s plays 1623 ! This valuable book was 
kept in a glass case with the greatest care, to keep 
away moth, dust arid damp. Mr. Forrest s charge to 
his servants and others was, that in case of fire or rob 
bery, they should think of nothing else, until they had 
saved the folio of Shakespeare, and a single picture in 
the gallery, by Meyer, to which we have already alluded. 

There were also among the debris, the burnt, crisped 
volumes of Halliweirs great edition of the plays of 
Shakespeare (sixteen volumes folio). These splendid 
volumes were illustrated by numerous plates, fac-sim- 
ileSj and wood-cuts accurately taken from the original 
sources. Only one hundred and fifty copies of this 
work were printed. One volume only of this work 
escaped, and that was in a distant part of the library. 

The following editions of Shakespeare s plays were 
among the collection destroyed : Pope s, 1725 ; War- 
burton s, 1747 ; George Stevens , 1766 ; Robinson s, 
1797; Miller s, 1807; Malone s, 1790, and various 
editions by Samuel Johnson; George Stevens, Isaac 
Reed, Boydell s great edition of 1802; Collier, 1853, 
etc. The catalogue of the dramatic works destroyed 
by this fire would fill a volume. As we had free access 
to his library at all times, this department, which was 
designated 



possessed great attractions ; the recollections of the 
many happy hours we spent there can never be for 
gotten. 



456 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

During Mr. Forrest s engagement in the South and 
West, in 1871, we had charge of his house, and very 
reluctantly received the keys of his library and picture 
gallery. Knowing the great value he placed upon 
both, we thought the responsibility too great, although 
we felt complimented for the confidence he placed in us. 
He was away several months. That folio edition of 
Shakespeare and the one picture, both of which he so 
highly valued, were ever in our mind. If there was an 
alarm of fire in the dead hour of the night, we would 
rush to the window and glance in the direction of Mr. 
Forrest s house, listen to the roll of the engines, and 
felt a sense of relief when the sound died away in the 
distance. These two objects were our "John Jones," 
and when he returned and found his library all bright 
and cheerful, we both felt happy. The one, to find 
himself once more at home, and the other, that he 
could return the keys and say : "All is safe. The folio 
in its place the picture still hanging in the picture 
gallery." How applicable to man are these beautiful 
lines for what are human calculations but day dreams, 
which the light of the morrow dispels ? What are 
bright thoughts but the gleam of a moment, to pass 
away the next ? 

" To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, 
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, 
To the last syllable of recorded time ; 
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle ! 
Life s but a walking shadow ; a poor player 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, 
And then is heard no more ; it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing." 

Who but Shakespeare could have written such 
lines ? and who but a Forrest read them ? 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 457 

He is no longer with us no longer to be seen, that 
stalwart figure the piercing eye and lofty brow. No 
longer to be seen, the proud representative of the heroes 
of the past ages no longer to be seated in his vast 
library, a lonely man, looking around with honest 
pride, and bowing his head in silent admiration to the 
thousands of master spirits contained in the bound 
volumes before him. These were his trusty friends, for 
they neither fawned nor flattered. Where are those 
true friends now ? Go ask the debris that lie scattered 
around his spacious library go ask the flames as they 
cracked and blazed for three long hours, rioting and 
revelling in huge volumes of smoke as they rolled 
through the halls and chambers of his dwelling go 
ask these, and their answer will be ASHES ! 

As Mr. Forrest s library was the scene of many 
pleasant hours in our life, we cannot leave it hastily. 
Our readers are aware, ere this, that our Reminiscences 
of Mr. Forrest are of a desultory character, hence we 
give them as they rise up in memory before us. 

So few knew Mr. Forrest outside of the theatre, 
where, amid the glare of light, sound of music, and all 
the paraphernalia which make up the "mimic world/ 
he was so panoplied in " armor bright," or dressed in 
regal robes, that his private character was judged from 
a stage point of view. It is, therefore, not unlikely 
that a portion of play-goers would form an opinion of 
the actor from the character he impersonates. They 
take the ideal for the reality. We remember when the 
elder Kean was playing an engagement in Philadelphia, 
in the year 1826, a young girl cried out, during the 
performance of Richard III., "Take away that wicked 
man." And yet the actor is but a representative of 



458 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

what are supposed to be the real personages of history, 
and if he carries along with such impersonations his 
own individuality, he ceases to he an artist. The 
young lady could not realize the fact that a small man 
with a smooth face, terrible eyes, and a hunchback, 
could be other than a " wicked man." But the actor, 
such a one as Forrest in repose, is " himself again," 
and no more like the imperious characters of the drama 
than was David to Goliah. 

We never entered his library but we found him 
either with a book in hand or engaged at the writing 
table. The former, however, was his chief employ 
ment in his hours of ease. No one could have imagined 
for a moment that the quiet, calm student before him 
was the terrible Lear and Othello of the stage. To 
hear him talk to listen to his glorious voice as he read 
some passages from a favorite poet listen to his anec 
dotes and his masterly imitation of all the great actors 
of his time hear him in the pathetic scenes of the 
drama and of fugitive poetry, particularly that of 
"The Idiot Boy" no one would ever imagine that 
the stern Roman of the stage, could draw tears by his 
wonderful display of feeling and pathos in the reading 
of a simple poem. 

Mr. Forrest was a great admirer of good poetry, and 
had quite a collection of poems cut from the newspa 
pers of the day. To have heard him read Whittier s 
beautiful lines of " School Days," no one would have 
imagined for a moment, that this same voice startled a 
theatre full of people in delivering the awful curse of 
Rome, in the great play of Richelieu. 

The man who could read " The Idiot Boy," so as 
to draw tears from the eyes of his hearers, and recite 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 459 

" School Days," to conjure up the days of our youth 
to make old age forget its decrepitude, must needs be a 
poet. We often thought that Mr. Forrest indulged in 
the pleasing walks of Parnassus, but we never discov 
ered his footprints there. Perhaps the following lines 
are the only ones that were ever published as coming 
from his pen: They were written in New Orleans, 
in 1829, and published in the Louisiana Advertiser : 

LINES 

On the lamented death of HENRY KEPPELE BUNTING, 
Whose virtues gained him the esteem of all who knew him. 



" How slow they marched each youthful face was pale, 
And downcast eyes disclosed the mournful tale, 
Grief was depicted on each manly brow, 
And gloomy tears abundantly did flow 
From each sad heart, for he whose breath" had fled, 
Was loved by all in honor s path was bred ; 
I knew him well, his heart was pure and kind, 
A noble spirit and a lofty mind ! 
Virtue cast round his head her smiling wreath, 
"Which did not leave him on his bed of death. 
His image lives and from my grief-worn heart, 
While life remains, will never, never part ! 
Weep, soldiers, weep ! with tears of sadness lave 
Your friend and brother s drear, untimely grave." 

EDWIN. 



CHAPTER XLIY. 

FORREST IN HIS PICTURE GALLERY. LOVE OF ART. 
THE LIBRARY. - REPEATING THE LORD S PRAYER. - 
THE MINISTER AND THE ACTOR CONTRASTED. - 
WINE AND GRAPES. - THE OLD BIBLE. - REFERENCE 
TO THE FOLIO OF 1623. - THE RESULT. - THE HIS 
TORY OF THIS EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE S PLAYS. 
- UNJUST CRITICISM. - THE LAST SCENE IN THE 
LIBRARY. 



landscape mentioned in our last, painted by 
-*- Meyer, is considered the gem in the Forrest Col 
lection. The principal figure is a girl, as already de 
scribed, which, for natural beauty and artistic skill in 
its portraiture, has few equals in ancient or modern 
schools. The artist seemed to have invested it with a 
sort of etherial beauty, which had taken such a hold of 
Mr. Forrest, that he made it, not only a study, but ap 
parently a thing to worship. With him this picture 
became, as it were, a part and portion of himself the 
lovely girl recalled some passage in his life to which he 
had alluded on several occasions, but never explained. 
For hours would he sit in the gallery, gazing upon it. 
What his thoughts were when there alone, all around 
him still as the silence of death, no one ever knew. 
Picture him in your mind s eye gazing upon that child 
life-like by the painter s art dreaming, perhaps, of 
some bright object long since passed away from him 

(460) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 461 

and earth ; picture him the lone man seated in his gal 
lery, with numerous portraits around him, some so nat 
ural that you could almost hear them whisper ! there 
he sits gazing, thinking, dreaming of the past its sun 
shine and joys ; and then awakens to find them again 
in that picture. We could never gather, by word or 
action, any clue to this strange morbid feeling. He 
has been known to get up in the dead hour of the 
night, go into the gallery, turn on the gas, and sit 
gazing on that picture for hours. The mystery con 
nected with it, died with him. 

No one, after seeing him as we did, would ever 
accuse Mr. Forrest of being ascetic or rough. Few 
gave him credit for possessing those " soft parts of con 
versation that chamberers have ; " they associate him 
with the sternness of tragedy, the might of Damon, the 
inflexibility of Brutus, the dignity of Coriolanus, or the 
Diabola of Richard III." 

These, indeed, seem to throw around an actor a sort 
of tragic gloom. See him, however, when the stage 
illusion has passed away, and you find him as fit for 
comedy and farce as the most facetious would require. 
Such was Mr. Forrest. We knew him, Horatio a 
fellow of Infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. " Mr. 
Forrest," says one, "was rough in his manner." To 
whom ? At rehearsal he was strict, for he could not 
recognize in a well-regulated theatre the necessity of 
trifling with any part of an actor s duty so essential to 
the interests of the stage and drama. He would have 
all men artists, or at least the lovers of an art which 
they were to follow as a profession. Although mere 
art cannot give the rules that make art, study and ap 
plication can. Men would come to rehearsal of a morn- 



462 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ing, to use the term mildly, drunk. Others, again, 
without having the least knowledge of what they had 
to do or say. Forrest s impulsive nature could not 
stand this ; he would speak plain and to the purpose, 
perhaps not quite so complimentary to the delinquents. 
As the founder, we may say, of our national drama, he 
had the right to check abuses, correct errors, and estab 
lish rules for the dramatic school of which, although he 
knew not then, he was in time to become its master ! 

Seated in his library one Sunday afternoon, when 
the windows were open, and the numerous birds in his 
garden were sending forth their happy notes as hymns 
to their Creator, and the voice of a preacher in an open 
lot on Broad street adding discordance to all that is 
sweet and harmonious in nature, he would express his 
regret that nature and the dramatic art were not more 
studied by the ministry. " Now," said he, " for in 
stance" and he stood up, not with an air of mockery, 
but with the confidence that his great art would so im 
press holy words as to bring them home to every heart 
"I ll recite the Lord s Prayer." We never heard, 
and probably will never hear again, this great and 
solemn prayer read or recited, we may say, as it was on 
this occasion. His full-toned voice, the depth of feel 
ing displayed, although given as an illustration, seemed 
to invest the great actor with almost prophetic power. 
The voice of the preacher in the open lot sounded 
harsh ; his yells and screams to win sinners were those 
of an alarmist ; there was no harmony in their sounds, 
no true sense of religion to give them effect. The 
actor, not the preacher, seemed to us, then, the only 
exponent of divine things. 

Some of our preachers have a way of their own, 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 4G3 

artificial, pompous and unnatural. There is a want 
of truth and nature in their reading and delivery, an 
absence of feeling in the expression of sorrow and suf 
fering. Every passion or emotion of the mind has 
from nature its proper and peculiar countenance, sound 
or action ; and the whole body of the man, his looks, 
and every tone of his voice, like the strings of an in 
strument, receive their expression from the various 
impulses the subject evokes. We have heard passages 
of Job read by an actor, which, if given from the pul 
pit, would have thrown over that splendid dramatic 
poem a new light a light brought forth by the power 
of action on the sealed book, and opening its leaves to 
sybilline the world ! The ancients excelled in action ; 
many of their actors, by the mere exercise of their 
body and arms, and expression of countenance, could 
describe a whole story, and excite an audience by these 
qualities alone. An actor will melt an audience to 
tears by his reading the " Prodigal Son," while a 
preacher will not excite a single emotion. When Gar- 
rick was asked by a celebrated bishop how it was that 
an actor could produce such an effect on an audience, 
so as to cause them to weep, while preachers were un 
able to create a similar manifestation, he answered: 
" Ministers speak truths as if they were fictions, while 
actors speak fictions as if they were truths" This 
seems to have been a fault in pulpit oratory for ages. 
An old writer thus quaintly describes an orator; "An 
oratour is he that can or may speke in every question 
sufficiently elegantly and to persuayde properly, accor- 
dynge to the dygnytie of the thyng that is spoken of, the 
opportunity of tyme, and pleasure of them that be 
herers." 



464 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

Mr. Forrest, with all his ponderous grace, elegance 
and tragic power, was remarkable for the beauty of his 
reading pathetic pieces and Biblical gems. A writer, 
speaking upon this subject, says : " Your action must 
appear natural as the general offspring of the things 
you express, and the passion that moves you co speak 
in that manner ; in short, the actor, pleader or preacher, 
must possess that discrimination in the management 
of his actions, that there may be nothing in all the 
various motions and dispositions of his body which 
may be offensive to the eyes of his auditors, nothing 
grating or unharmonious to the ear in his pro 
nunciation ; in that case his person will be less agree 
able, and his speech less efficacious, by wanting that 
grace, truth and power it would otherwise attain." 

We are still in the library, " There," said he, " are 
some of the finest grapes in the country ; they are from 
Springbrook ; those on the other side are from my 
hot-house in the yard; try both." Beside the grapes 
were oranges, lemons, cakes, apples, pears, old brandy, 
and rich wines of the choicest brands; cigars, the per 
fume of which gave zest to the feast. Such was the 
scene Mr. Forrest s library presented to welcome friends. 
We indulged in all save the liquor and cigars. " I 
will never ask you to drink a drop in my house," he 
said, a for the man who for over fifty years resisted the 
temptation of the bottle, shall never say ; It was here 
I yielded/" 

" You need not," was our reply : " although not 
what is called a temperance man, no inducement 
under heaven can shake my resolution never to taste 
liquor again" 

As Mr. Forrest, during our numerous visits, scarce- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 465 

ly touched a glass of liquor, we are pleased to add here 
that no one can ever accuse him of having been an 
intemperate man. 

" There," said he, "do you see that old Bible ?" 
an old relic of some by-gone age. " That, I picked up 
in Africa ; it belonged to a priest attached to some 
mission. He wanted money, I wanted the book. I 
value it not so much for its antiquity, but finding it, as 
I did, so far from the land of civilization." 

In conversation upon topics of the day, Mr. Forrest 
never interlarded his language with quotations from 
plays, as many actors do. He was easy, natural and 
unaffected, never using high-sounding words or un 
necessary oratorical display. Hyperbole, so frequently 
resorted to by actors, and loud talkers, formed no 
part of his conversation. You hear many exclaim, 
"By all the Grods," and something about "high 
Olympus," "the thunderbolts," "dogs of war," "shake 
not your gory locks at me." This is all acting off 
the stage, and in many instances much better than 
it is done on. To hear a man talk thus might give 
the few some exalted notion of his genius from a nar 
row point of view, but the many would incontinently 
set him down as an ass. 

Between gentlemen and scholars, unless the sub 
ject of conversation tends that way, all these hyper 
boles and expletives are discarded, and when con 
versing with the educated actor you learn one fact ; 
that he, like the merchant when away from com 
mercial business, invariably " sinks the shop." 

It is Shirley Brooks, we believe, who says : " When 
engaged at my trade, I require all my tools ; when 
remitted to leisure, I rejoice to lay them aside." This 
29 



466 LIFE OP EDWIN FORREST. 

is true logic in its application to the avocations and 
business of life. 

We had occasion some few years ago to allude to 
Mr. Forrest s private habits, and speaking upon the 
subject, after a visit, similar to one given before, we 
wrote the following: 

"During our conversation allusions were frequently 
made to his foreign travels. To us his account was in 
teresting, because he occasionally spoke of places and of 
men more or less connected with the drama s history. He 
had trodden on classic ground, and visited places where 
the first dawn of the Grecian drama came upon the 
mimic world. It was only, however, when something 
occurred in our conversation, that he alluded to his travels, 
but when some particular scene or incident connected with 
them was called up, then would his eyes brighten, and his 
full-toned voice, rich in melody, dilate upon the subject, 
not egotistically, but to illustrate some peculiar national 
trait of character, or manner of the people. When we 
say that Mr. Forrest s tour extended to portions of Africa, 
and also among the Moors, even beyond the line of 
European civilization, it may be imagined that he was 
enabled to tell us something of a people which the genius 
of Shakespeare presents to us in the character of Othello. 

" We never met with a traveller, if we except the late 
John Howard Payne, who spoke less of his travels than 
did Mr. Forrest. It might be that he considered it as 
savoring too much of egotism to speak of his personal ad 
ventures in foreign lands. Be this as it may, we were re 
minded strongly of our first interview with the author of 
Brutus, whose history in connection with his foreign travel 
was never uttered while living, nor written since his 
death. Mr. Forrest just said enough to arouse our atten 
tion to this fact, that it was not all labor lost ; and we have 
no doubt that when a life of him is written, his notes of 
travel will furnish the historian with many interesting 
sketches, apart from the local interest naturally attached to 
it. Mr. Forrest s vast library room has several centre 
tables and desks ; these are laden with all the paraphernalia 
of a man of letters and of business. Books, pamphlets, 
and newspapers are scattered around, but arranged in 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 4G7 

perfect order; everything tells you at once he is no idler. 
Every table has its history. Here is one that looks as if 
it was arranged for business matters; here another, evi 
dently used for literary purposes, for we see books open 
for quotation or reference, and slips of paper, evidently 
notes and memorandum. A glance, however, showed us 
that the matter was more of a practical than a dramatic 
selection of items. Near to a window, in the rear of 
the library opening out into his extensive gardens, stood 
a table laden with much solid matter, and we at once 
set it down as his autobiographical table. Here, we said 
to ourselves, will be written the life of Edwin Forrest, 
the tragedian, by the author himself. 

"Although nearly the whole of this vast room is filled 
with books and some rare relics, all bearing evidence of 
mental culture, industry, and study, still there were certain 
mysterious-shaped things that denoted some attention to 
physical culture, such as Indian clubs, used for the pur 
poses of exercising the muscles of the arms, dumb-bells, 
etc. In fact, Mr. Forrest told us of the various exercises 
in which he indulged, apart from these visible evidences, 
that would in our opinion, kill two-thirds of those who 
attempted them, but in his case they act as charms to give 
him health and strength. 

" As ours is a mere pen-and-ink sketch of Mr. Forrest 
and his surroundings, attractive and pleasing as they are, 
it must necessarily be very imperfect. We had purposed 
to give our readers a more extended notice of Mr. For 
rest s inner life, there is so much to see, to admire, and 
so much to covet, if we may confess our sin, that we 
found it impossible to confine our pen to him altogether. 
Books, engravings, photographs, pictures, paintings, sculp 
ture and relics meet the eye at every turn ; and when 
we left the house it was with mingled feelings of pride 
and admiration, for the visit only tended to strengthen 
our opinion of the stage, and that with such men as Mr. 
Forrest as its head, it would soon become, to use the 
language of John Stiles, ( the mirror of a nation s virtue, 
and the enlightened and polished school of a free people. " 

We were speaking one day, when seated in his 
library, about some of our early scenes in the happy 
days of boyhood. The subject gradually turned to the 



468 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

stage. We called his attention again to the oft dis 
puted passage in Hamlet, to which we have alluded in 
another chapter, "I ll call thee Hamlet/ etc. 

"Why do you continue to read as you do, when 
satisfied in your own mind that it is not correct ? " 

" Well," said he, " I have an idea, sometimes, it is 
the most proper ; still, as I have been so accustomed 
to read it so, I doubt if I were convinced of my error, 
I would read it so still." 

"Custom," we remarked, " should never sustain 
error. We differ, however, and so let the matter rest. 
But," casting our eyes toward where lay the folio of 
1623, of which he set so high a value, not in money, 
but in its age and close affinity with those who had it 
printed " have you ever referred to that edition ? if 
not, let us look for the passage now." It appeared 
he never had, strange as it may sound. 

We both went to where the "sacred volume," in 
a dramatic sense, was, and its leaves were carefully 
turned over until we came to Hamlet, and to my great 
satisfaction, and Mr. Forrest s surprise, we found the 
passage marked thus : 

" I ll call thee Hamlet ! 
King ! Father ! Royal Dane ! Oh, answer me ! " 

This edition of Shakespeare the first folio was 
published in 1623, by Heminge and Condell, two 
prominent members of the company, who were still 
connected with the theatre at the time it was going 
through the press ; hence it is to be inferred that the 
punctuation was in accordance with the manner with 
which it was spoken on the stage. 

Forrest gazed on the page, and quietly observed : 
"You are right;" and yet, when he gave his readings 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 469 

in Philadelphia and in New York, he read it as he 
had on every occasion of his playing Hamlet. 

The fate of this volume is well known to our 
readers. The destruction of the dramatic library by fire 
BO shortly after his death, is of a more serious nature 
than at first was imagined. The very books which 
were so essential to the " Edwin Forrest Home" were 
destroyed works that cannot be replaced, or if some of 
them could, they would not be like those lost, for on the 
margin of the leaves of many, particularly Malone s 
edition of Shakespeare, Mr. Forrest had made numer 
ous notes notes that marked the intellectuality of the 
man, and the great Shakesperian scholar that he was. 
When we last saw the crisp-burnt copy of this folio 
smouldering in its ashes, a few leaves only remaining 
to tell its sad story, we thought of its owner lying 
there in the deep vault, his last resting-place, while all 
that he most valued was now, what he soon would be 
ashes. How he valued that book venerating alike 
its age and its author ! How often had he said to us: 
"If this house took fire, and I could save that book, 
and one picture, in the gallery, all the rest might go." 
Nearly all the rest did go, at least of those books so 
essential to the " Edwin Forrest Home," but with them 
went the folio of 1623. The picture he so highly 
valued was saved, as the fire did not reach his picture 
gallery. The burning of Mr. Forrest s library has 
elicited much comment, and as yet no satisfactory ac 
count of it has been given to the public. One other 
reason that induces us to allude to it now, is that many 
persons are under the impression that the folio of 
Shakespeare s plays (1623), and other valuable dra 
matic works, were not destroyed. Crisped and rendered 
forever useless, is all that remains of the folio of 1623. 



470 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

As a relic of the burning, it can be shown to strangers ; 
a sad memorial, it is true. 

As this, the first folio edition of Shakespeare s 
plays, is now so rare, and commands such fabulous 
prices, some account of it may not be out of place in 
these Reminiscences. 



PUBLISHED IN 1623. 

John Heminge, and Henrie Condell, brother actors 
with Shakespeare, and Directors of the King s Com 
pany of Comedians, published the first edition. 

The following is an actual copy of the title page of 
Shakespeare s plays complete, known as the folio of 
1623. It is faced, on a fly leaf, by the verses of Ben 
Jonson, on the head of Shakespeare, engraved by 
Droeshout, which occupies the centre : 

" Mr. William Shakespeare s Comedies, Histories, & 
Tragedies. Published according to the True original 
copies. London. Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. 
Blount, 1623." 

At the bottom of the fly leaf of the volume is the 
following Colophon : 

" Printed at the charges of Wm. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, 
J. Smithweeke, and W. Aspley, 1623." 

The following are the verses of Ben Jonson : 

TO THE READER. 

" This figure that thou here sees t put 
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut ; 
Wherein the Grauer had a strife 
With nature, to out-doo the life : 
O, could he but haue drawne his wit 
As well in brasse, as he hath hit 
His face ; the print would then surpasse 
All that was ever writ in brasse, 
But since he cannot, Reader, looke 
Not on his picture, but his booke." 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOBKEST. 471 

We give Ben Jonson s testimonial exactly as it 
stands in the folio of 1623, for it afterwards went 
through various literal changes. There are other 
commendatory verses, prefixed to the folio of 1623, 
from different authors, viz., L. Digges, J. M. (per 
haps the initials of John Marston) and Hugh Holland. 

This edition is dedicated " To the most Noble and 
Incomparable Paire of Brethren, William Earle of 
Pembroke &c., Lord Chamberlaine to the King s most 
Excellent Majesty. And Philip Earle of Montgomery, 
&c., Gentlemen of his Majestie s Bed Chamber. Both 
Knights of the most Noble Order of the Garter, and 
our singular good Lords/ 

This dedication is signed by John Heminge and 
Henrie Condell. Accompanying this is an address : 

TO THE GREAT VARIETY OF READERS. 

As both the dedication and address are lengthy, 
and not of sufficient interest, we will give a short ex 
tract from the latter, as containing the only portion 
more particularly connected with the immortal bard : 

" It had bene a thing, we confesse, worthy to haue bene 
" wished, that the Author himselfe had liu d to haue set 
" forth, and ouerseen his owne writings ; But since it hath 
" bin ordain d otherwise, and he by death departed from 
" that right, we pray you doe not envie his Friends the of- 
" fice of their care, and paine, to have collected, and pub- 
" lish d them; and so to have purtis d them, as where (be- 
" fore) you were abus d with divers stolne, and surrepti- 
" tious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds, and 
" stealthes of injurious impost-era, that expos d them ; even 
" those are now offer d to your view cur d and perfect of 
" their limbs ; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, 
" as he concerned the ; Who, as he was a happie imitator 
u of Nature, was a most gentle expresser of it. His mind 
"and heart went together: And what he thought, he vt- 



472 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

" tered with that easinesse, that wee haue scarse receued 
" from him a blot in his papers. But it is not our prouince, 
" who onely gather his works and give them you, to praise 
" him. It is yours that reade him." * * * 

This is signed by JOHN HEMINGE and HENBIB 
CONDELL. 

As we close the chapter which we head " The Li 
brary," the last interview we had with our lamented 
friend in it, may not prove uninteresting to our readers. 
On the Tuesday previous to his death, we had a long 
and pleasant conversation. His reference to our early 
days ; the old South Street Theatre ; the Tivoli, and 
his first appearance at the Walnut Street Theatre, was 
spoken of with a sort of foreshadowing of his coming 
end. It did not affect us then, but since his death the 
shadow assumes reality. Mr. Forrest had concluded 
his readings in New York. In a pecuniary point of 
view they were not successful, nor did the "critics" 
of that city give him credit for the correctness of 
the rendition of the text. On this afternoon these 
criticisms were the subject of our conversation; and we 
would observe here that Mr. Forrest manifested not 
the least temper on the occasion, on the contrary, he 
laughed heartily at a critic accusing him of reading 
Hamlet in this manner : 

" Thus was I sleeping by a brother s hand." 

instead of 

" Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother s hand 
Of life, of crown, of Queen at once despatched." 

" Is there a man," he said, " in this community, 
could imagine for a moment that I, who have made 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOE BE ST. 473 

Shakespeare a life s study, would render his text in 
this ridiculous manner ! " 

Then we came to another. The writer says, " Mr. 
Forrest read, dead vast/ instead of i dead waste/ " 
The folio edition, and some of the quartoes have it 
" wast," and " waist." In the first folio, the only au 
thority, it is "vast." Mr. Forrest uses it, as it is 
evident Shakespeare intended, to denote " the vacancy 
and the void of night," the "deserted emptiness," and 
"the still of midnight." " Vast" being taken in its 
primitive sense for desolate, void, and not in the sense 
of "waste," as expressed in this sentence, "They made 
the waste the waste wilderness." Vast is Nature s 
vacuity of space, and as Milton uses it, " the vast of 
Heaven," and as Shakespeare uses it in " The Tem 
pest," as "that vast of night." 

Then our attention was called to another supposed 
correction of Mr. Forrest s reading: "Thou dead 
corse" the critic said, should be read " dread corse." 
The latter is a modern interpretation of the text, 
based on the idea of the first being tautological. The 
definition of the word corse, fully sustains Shakespeare s 
use of the word, while at the same time it confutes 
the theory of being tautological. "A dead human 
body, a corse," etc. Dead corse is Shakespeare. The 
old authors also used the word "dead," in connection 
with " corses," as will be seen from the following : 

" That y e say d ii deed corses were drawe downe the 
Bteyers without pytie, and layed in y e court that all men 
myght beholde that myserable spectacle." 

This passage will be found in Fabyan. K. John, 
an. 8. 



474 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

Again, a critic said, Mr. Forrest read a passage 
thus : " You know sometimes he walks four hours 
together, here in the lobby/ instead of, " he walks for 
hours/ etc. 

The Shakesperian scholar knows full well that 
"four hours " is the proper reading. In many of the 
old English plays, as well as those of Shakespeare, the 
words "four hours/ "three hours," "two hours," are 
invariably used, and seldom do you find " for hours " 
in connection with the specification of time and place. 

Connected with this interview are one or two other 
incidents which we will name. He had been reading 
the Provoked Wife, by Sir John Vanbrugh (1697). He 
had marked a passage, as he said, "for our especial 
notice/ showing the immoral state of the drama at 
that time. He read the passage marked, and gave 
one of his peculiar laughs, which, apart from the sub 
ject, made one laugh with him. It was the laugh of 
a man at peace with all the world. 

He handed me on the same day an envelope with 
this inscription: "Bill of the play, George Fred. 
Cooke, Boston." The play-bill is dated February 
5th, 1812, " Merchant of Venice." 

Beside the Provoked Wife lay a MSS. play we 
loaned him to read a few days previous, written by 
John Howard Payne, entitled The Italian Bride. It 
lies there now, for he had no time to finish it death 
was in haste, and he had to leave. 

The last words he uttered, as we parted at the 
door of his library, were "God bless you!" God 
had blessed me in the friendship of such a man as 
Edwin Forrest. 

We have frequently thought, since the death of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 475 

Mr. Forrest, that these criticisms, so unjust, so uncalled 
for and evidently personal, had some effect upon him. 
Although he strove to hide it, there were times we 
knew when they were conned over in a bitter spirit. 
These " unfledged critics hirelings of the press," who 
only know Skakespeare from a stage point of view, 
dared to criticise the readings of a man who had made 
the original texts a life study. They had performed 
their dirty work, pocketed their hire, and were content. 
The tongue of calumny and the pen envenomed 
with the poison of " envy, malice and all uncharitable- 
ness," can never touch him more. 

"After life s fitful fever, he sleeps well." 

In connection with this portion of our Keminis- 
cences, the following article from the pen of T. H. 
Morrell, Esq., of New York, will be read with pleasure, 
as an able vindication of the distinguished tragedian 
from the attack of &pseudo critic. 

ME. FORREST S LATE READINGS IN NEW YORK. "FREE 
LANCE" SHIVERED, IF NOT BROKEN. 

King. Have you heard the argument ? Is there no offence in t ? 
Hamlet. * * No offence i the world. 

Hamlet, Act III. Scene 2. 

" In replying briefly to an article contributed to a 
daily contemporary, a few days since, its correspondent 
bearing the pseudonym of Free Lance/ and in which 
the writer takes up arms against a sea of troubles/ 
and wildly brandishes his weapon in the hope of anni 
hilating all, whether native, to the manor born/ or of 
foreign extraction, who have recently attempted in our 
city to honor by interpretation the creations of the 
mighty Bard and yet so skilfully modifying his hyper- 



476 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

criticism in the endeavor to see how near he may come 
to the mark without hitting it I propose only to recur 
to the remarks respecting the veteran of the American 
stage, Mr. Forrest, they forming the opening portion 
of his lengthy and certainly not uninteresting paper. 

"An admirer of the great tragedian, though having 
no personal acquaintance with the gentleman, it is not 
my intention to take up the gauntlet in defence of Mr. 
Forrest as an artist, nor do I propose to enter into any 
controversy in the matter, believing that, at this late 
day, no such step is necessary, and least of all, desired. 

"But in justice to the intelligence and culture of a 
large portion of our citizens who have in years back 
flocked to witness this actor s delineations (among 
which the character referred to has always been a 
prominent feature), whatever difference of opinion may 
exist in regard to Mr. Forrest s rendition of the role of 
the Melancholy Dane (the right to criticise which is 
freely acknowledged), it is but proper that the sweep 
ing assertion made by a certain critic, that Mr. For 
rest does not understand what Hamlet means, should 
be promptly refuted as utterly devoid of consistency, 
fairness and candor. 

" Free Lance (unlike, however, the critic), while 
diverging somewhat from the actual statistical and his 
torical facts, has certainly evinced a considerable dis 
play of ability, proceeding no doubt from earnest and 
candid conviction. 

" And first, while he has undoubtedly been allured 
by the fascinations of such plays of singular construc 
tion and cotemporaneous events as have been produced 
by our youngest manager, it is very evident that in 
making the assertion that England s neglected Shake- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 477 

speare is preferable to America s murdered one/ he has 
never witnessed, or perhaps heard of, certain Shake- 
sperian characters, as represented by the following 
American artists, viz. : The FalstafF of Hackett, For 
rest s Lear, Booth s lago, Davenport s Hamlet, Adams 
Mercutio, Gilbert s Dogberry, and Miss Cushman s 
Lady Macbeth, creations which to-day stand side by side 
with the same impersonations, in times long past, by 
Henderson, Garrick, Cooke, Kemble, Cooper, Moody, 
and Mrs. Siddons. And, again, in stating that Mr. 
Forrest was born at a time when lungs meant more 
than art, he displays an almost inexcusable ignorance 
of the history of the English stage, which from the 
year 1800 to 1820 was illumined by the most brilliant 
meteors that ever graced the histrionic firmament, all 
of which were pre-eminent for their intellectual rather 
than their physical powers. The stately Kemble 
(John Phillip) and his peerless sister, Mrs. Siddons, 
the gifted, though unfortunate, George Frederick 
Cooke, the classical Vandenhoff, the gentlemanly 
Charles Kemble, the handsome Wallack, Junius Bru 
tus Booth, Young, Miss O Neill (buried only a few 
days since), and others, not to forget that wonderful 
genius, Edmund Kean, who, bursting forth before the 
foot-lights of bankrupt Drury Lane, on the night of 
February 26th, 1814, like some golden aurora upon 
the frozen regions of barren northern wilds, startled by 
his originality, his fiery impetuosity, his devilish sub 
tlety, and his sublime pathos, the very foundations of 
dramatic England. 

" Free Lance demurs also at the tragedian s 
rendition of the text of Hamlet, especially noting the 
well-known lines : 



478 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

" Or that the Everlasting had not fixed 
His canon gainst self-slaughter. 

"And if not regarding with sacred awe the com 
mandment of the Omnipresent and All- Seeing One 
His canon above all others, and who alone has warned 
us of that 

" Dread of something after death 

The undiscover d country, from whose bourn 
No traveller returns, 

of what avail would be all human and moral prohi 
bition ? 

"Surely Mr. Forrest might well pronounce, with 
reverential emphasis, * His canon only, the fiat of Him 
who can make and unmake judges, and who has writ 
ten in imperishable characters on tablets unchange 
able, immortal as his own Divinity, i Thou shaft do no 
murder. 

"If the said correspondent of cotemporaneous 
and singular construction will refer to the original 
folio of the great Bard (or to the admirable fac-simile 
reprint made by Booth, of London, not long since), he 
will find that Polonius thus addresses the King : 

" You know sometimes 
He walks FOURE houres together, heere 
In the Lobby. 

" This is as Shakespeare wrote it, not as Free 
Lance would read it. 

"The other readings objected to are but of little 
importance, being possibly, defects of hearing, for 
while all his reports go with the naked truth/ I say it 
in a spirit of Christian charity, they may not have 
accompanied the un varnished facts. 

"Again, I cannot coincide with the bearer of a 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 479 

Free Lance (though, I fear, a frail one) in his regret 
that < Mr. Forrest should not retire to a life of elegant 
leisure/ believing that the new field the veteran has 
chosen will only add renewed lustre to his wondrous 
intellectual powers, still undimmed and unimpaired. 
Without a rival near his throne, our actor may yet 
pursue the even tenor of his way/ assured that there 
will never he but one Edwin Forrest." 



CHAPTER XLV. 



CLOSE OF A BRILLIANT CAREER. THE UNCERTAINTY 
OF LIFE. - FAREWELL. - OUR LAST INTERVIEW, 
TUESDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 10TH, 1872. - TER 
RIBLE ANNOUNCEMENT. - DEATH. 



close of Mr. Forrest s dramatic career was as 
brilliant as was the light that shone upon his 
youthful beginning fifty years gone by. The bright 
dream of the boy was realized in age. He had attained 
the height to which his youthful ambitious aspirations 
aimed ; he had mastered all the difficulties that beset 
his pathway, and climbed young ambition s ladder 
until he reached its utmost round. From thence he 
looked down upon the great moving panorama of the 
drama, as section after section passed away from him, 
and wondered if ever again he should take part in its 
revolving course. No ! never again never here. The 
curtain fell on the last act of his dramatic life, and the 
great tragedian passed from the busy scenes of an 
actor s career, to the quiet inactive one of private life. 



480 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

Was it his intention to retire from the stage ? Had 
the curtain indeed fallen forever between him and the 
public ? Was the sound of applause that greeted him 
on every occasion of his entrance on the stage, in some 
favorite character, to be heard no more? Was the 
image of Lear to disappear with this great representa 
tive the only portraiturest of that creation of Shake 
speare s genius ? Was Kichelieu s startling picture to 
be copied by some vile pretender ? No ! the great 
master was only resting from his labors. Three-score 
and six years had not dimmed the fire of his eye, nor 
the lustre of his mind. Physically, he was strong ; and 
with a frame of vast muscular power, many, very many 
years were set down by him in life s calendar yet. His 
only enemy was the gout ; this, he thought to conquer ; 
" and when I do/ said he, "I shall go upon the stage 
again a better actor than ever." How applicable to 
this period of his life is the following speech, made by 
him some twenty years before, on his contemplated 
retirement from the stage, to turn his attention to farm 
ing. It was delivered during what he called his fare 
well engagement in New Orleans : 

"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN : The little bell which 
told the falling of the curtain also announced my final 
departure from among you. For the last quarter of a cen 
tury you have cheered my efforts. From the time that I 
landed, a nameless stranger among you, until the present 
period I have been crowned by you with most brilliant 
success. I wish to change my pursuit I would not lag 
superfluous on the stage. I have chosen a pursuit congenial 
to my feelings that pursuit which the immortal Washing 
ton pronounced one of the most noble, most useful ever 
followed by man the tilling of the soil. And now, 
ladies and gentlemen, I have to say that little word, which 
is often said hi this sad, bright world Farewell ! 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 481 

Farewell ! yes, it was a word that made him feel sad 
then, for he was so overcome by emotion that he was 
forced to retire from the stage. His eyes were moist 
with tears of parting friendship. 

But how different now ! At the very moment when 
he was planning schemes for the future ; surrounded 
with all that wealth and taste could bestow ; with all 
the implements of his great art scattered around him 
Shakespeare in every form of type and binding, from 
the earliest folio to the last edition published here and 
in Europe. There, amid the treasured works of past 
ages, books, pictures in oil, and engravings, sculptured 
figures, added to objects of vertu, stood the representa 
tive of the heroes of Shakespeare, a rich, popular, and, 
as we thought, a happy man. Happiness does not 
always accompany wealth ; still, with the memories of 
the past crowding his mind, the strong will of the man 
subdued every emotion that was calculated to im 
press its workings on his countenance. He had ever an 
open hand and a smile for his friends to welcome them. 

It was thus we parted from him on Tuesday eve 
ning, December 10th, 1872: when he said, as he 
grasped our hand " God bless you!" Was it our last 
meeting our last parting in life ? Was the dark wing 
of death fluttering o er his head ? Was the bell to 
strike, and the curtain to fall between him and life s 
future, to rise no more ? The dawning of two more 
suns told the fearful tale. 

On Thursday morning, the 12th of December, 1872, 
about nine o clock, we were called upon by a faithful 
servant of Mr. Forrest s, who gave the alarming intel 
ligence that he was lying senseless, and apparently 
dead. She gave the information in wild accents, 
30 



482 LIFE OF EDWIN FO11KEST. 

almost unintelligible. In ten minutes we stood at his 
bedside. We had sent word by a messenger to Col. 
John W. Forney and Daniel Dougherty ere we left our 
house, requesting them to come immediately. 

The appearance of the body the calm features, 
flesh still warm had none of those indications which 
the death-stricken have. We looked around for the 
means of restoring him to consciousness, fully impressed 
with the conviction that it was a stupor from which he 
might readily be aroused. We bathed his head and 
neck with Cologne water. Finding this did no good, 
we raised his head gently, in the hope that the motion 
would cause a reaction in the dormant state lethargic 
we thought. Still there were no signs of life. All this 
time his two female servants and his coachman stood 
anxiously watching the result. At last the awful 
truth flashed upon us, and we exclaimed: " My God! 
he is dead!" The moment these words escaped us, 
there was a cry of agony from the women that was 
heart-rending. No time, however, was to be lost. In 
less than fifteen minutes we had a doctor beside the 
bed. Anxiously we watched his every motion ; the 
placing of the ear over the region of the heart the 
close examination of the eyes the raising up of the 
arms and then, their falling heavily on the bed we 
knew, then, that it was the sleep of death, from which 
there was no awakening on earth. 

The great tragedian had passed away in the light 
of the morning sun, whose rays came down through 
the lofty windows upon his noble brow, and shed over 
him, and the whole scene, a radiance that seemed al 
most preternatural. The great actor was dead ; the 
lightning-flash was no more rapid in its course than 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 483 

was that of the breath when it left its earthly 
tenement. 

" He died, not as men who sink, 

Before our eyes, to pulseless clay ; 
But changed to spirit, like a wink 
Of summer lightning, pass d away." 

About an hour afterward, Col. John W. Forney, 
and Daniel Dougherty, Esq., stood beside us, gazing 
upon the features of one we had so often watched 
when he was depicting some great character of the 
drama. We will now let Col. Forney speak of this 
melancholy scene : 

" His breakfast was ready at the usual hour (8.30) on 
Thursday morning, and the bell was rung; there was no 
reply. His heavy tread descending the broad stairs was 
unheard, and the bell was rung a second time without 
response. When the faithful Kate entered the library, and 
proceeded towards Mr. Forrest s bedroom, adjoining it, 
she heard a strong breathing, and on entering found him 
stretched across his bed, apparently in a swoon, and a livid 
streak on his right temple. He could not answer her call, 
and when she called in his friend and neighbor, Mr. James 
Rees ( Colley Gibber ), who summoned a neighboring 
physician, Dr. Corbet, the great actor was dead. . Word 
was immediately sent to James Oakes, of Boston, an asso 
ciate of Mr. Forrest, to Daniel Dougherty, his lawyer, and 
to Colonel Forney, of the Press, and last evening the two 
latter, with Mr. Rees, Mr. Parkinson, Mr. Elvins, and a 
few others, saw the great man laid out in his bedchamber, 
his face as quiet as if in sleep, and his broad forehead recall 
ing the magnificent brow of Shakespeare. Indeed, all 
about the dead man was Shakesperian. His dressing-case was 
literally covered with pocket volumes of the plays of the 
immortal bard, and in the library, at the west end, the 
broad pages of Ilalliwell s magnificent edition were open 
at Hamlet, with notes in Mr. Rees handwriting, showing 
that he and Mr. Forrest were on Tuesday comparing some 
of the criticisms on Forrest s late reading of that play in 



484 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

the New York Tribune and Herald. His intellect was 
clear till struck by the fatal blow." 

As every thing connected with the deceased pos 
sesses more or less interest, the following extracts 
from a letter written to the New York Herald by 
its regular correspondent, will be found equally in 
teresting : 

" PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 13. Seated at the desk where 
the dead tragedian has so often sat, and grasping in my 
hand the pen so often directed by that hand now nerveless, 
I look around Forrest s c home, his library, and endeavor 
to fathom that austere existence, the secret of that life, the 
causes of the things that were through the medium of the 
things that are, his books, his pictures, and the many remi 
niscences of that stormy life. The library was emphati 
cally Forrest s home, other apartments of the large, ramb 
ling mansion on the south-west corner of Broad and Master 
streets being nothing to him save as parts of a great whole. 
I doubt if he visited his picture gallery more than once a 
week, and then only because the central figure there is a 
marble statute of himself by Ball. His library was all in all 
to him, and it was here alone that he came out of the shell 
of his melancholy, and lived and thought his nature out. 
A long room running from east to west across the south 
wing of the mansion, having on either side ten rows of 
book shelves, inclosed by glass doors, contained his literary 
treasures. 

"Near the east window, on the table at which he often 
sat and poured over his books, lay an open book, the fif 
teenth volume of HalliwelTs Criticisms and Commentaries 
on Shakespeare. The book is opened at the one hundred 
and sixth page, and a scene from Hamlet had last engaged 
his attention. Mr. Forrest, on Wednesday last, had re 
ceived a Herald containing a criticism on his reading of 
Hamlet, and in company with Mr. liees ( Colley Gibber ) he 
had been comparing the before mentioned authority with 
the criticism alluded to. Clarke s and White s Notes on 
Shakespeare also lay on the table, opened at the index 
page. Both books remain as they were left, fitting evi 
dences of the fact that Mr. Forrest died in harness. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 485 

Scattered around, in reckless profusion, on the tables, 
chairs, and main shelf of the bookcases, lay letters, notices, 
papers, books, articles of vertu, wearing apparel, and one 
or two tin boxes, containing valuable papers. 

" His writing-table, where I am seated as I write, was 
used as a receptacle for anything and everything. A copy 
of Shakespeare, printed in 1632; one or two unopened 
letters, a Walker s Dictionary, a check-book, receipted 
bills, a letter the last one he ever wrote addressed to a 
gentleman in Yonkers; telegrams, a private seal, and a 
motley collection of newspapers lie before me now. In a 
glass case on the outside shelf of one of the bookcases is 
a copy of Shakespeare, one of the very first ever printed, 
bearing date 16 23. A like copy was recently sold in Lon 
don for 800, or $4000. But Shakespeare abounds here 
in many forms. Forrest worshipped the great bard, as 
his life and reading amply testify. 

" Passing from the library by a door in the eastern ex 
tremity, the visitor steps into the bath-room, and thence 
into the sleeping apartment where Mr. Forrest died. Mr. 
Forrest s personal tastes seem to have been of a simple 
nature. A plain mahogany bedstead, a dressing case of 
antique design, a bureau and two or three chairs complete 
the furniture. A portrait of his mother hangs near the 
head of the bed a kindly, sympathetic face. In this room 
he died alone. The circumstances of his death are full of 
sadness and replete with useful lessons. At nine o clock 
yesterday morning the breakfast bell rang, and Mr. For 
rest answered the summons in his usual manner by a sort 
of affirmative ahem ! Katie, his tried and trusted domestic 
of many years standing, went down stairs and awaited his 
coming. As he did not appear, Katie became a little im 
patient, and went up stairs to ring the bell a second time. 
As she approached the door she heard him breathing 
heavily, and groaning. Much alarmed, she called out, O, 
Mr. Forrest ! Mr. Forrest, are you sick ? What is the 
matter ? But no answer came to her summons ; and, 
thinking both the library and bedroom doors were fast 
ened, she stood spell-bound with fear and anxiety. As she 
related the story of his death, she said, I was almost crazy 
the poor man dying, and I not able to get near him. 
Almost unconsciously she tried the library door, and it 
opened. She rushed through the library to the bedroom, 



486 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

and found Mr. Forrest stretched on his back, and ap 
parently suffering intense pain. Oh! speak to me, Mr. 
Forrest! What is the matter? she called; but still no 
answer. Almost frantic by this time, she ran down stairs 
and surprised her sister, the cook. Mr. Forrest is almost 
gone ! she said. Send for Mr. Rees ! Telegraph Mr. 
Oakes! Send for a doctor! Send for Mr. Dougherty! 
she cried out in turn ; but her sister dropped whatever was 
in her hands, and ran up stairs to the dying man. She 
raised his feet from the side of the bed, and put them on a 
chair. She sponged his head with cold water, and opened 
his collar, and tried to get a word from him. He could 
not speak, but gave her a look of such unutterable mean 
ing, in which despair, desire to speak, and mental suffering 
were combined. He lived but a few moments after the 
cook came up. Even as he looked in the face of his ser 
vant, the film of death settled on the windows of his 
soul, and with one last despairing sigh, he settled back on 
the bed and was gone. 

" The immediate cause of his death is not positively 
determined. Dr. Gross, a surgeon of note in this city, in 
his certificate of death, says : Cause, apparently apoplexy 
of the brain. From what I can learn from the servants, I 
incline to the belief that Mr. Forrest burst a blood-vessel. 
It was a very favorite habit of his to dress himself in the 
morning with the exception of his coat, and stretching 
himself on his back in bed, in front of a movable mirror, 
exercise with a pair of eight-pound dumb-bells. When 
found yesterday the dumb-bells were lying at his side. 
The cook says a red streak appeared at the side of his 
neck just before he died. It would appear from this that 
he had been taking his accustomed exercise, and possibly 
with more violence than usual, and had burst a blood 
vessel when attempting to rise from a reclining position. 

" Thus he died, without a word, without one parting 
glance from the eyes of love. Surrounded by all that 
wealth and taste could give, deprived of that in his last 
moments that all the wealth and all the power of the world 
could not have given him a friend to return the last pres 
sure of that stiffening hand." 

When Mr. James Oakes, of Boston, arrived at the 
instance of our telegram, it was, as stated above, to 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 487 

find the friend so much loved and admired, lying, like 
some sculptured figure of pure Italian marble, classic 
even in death, before him. His emotion, his tears, 
were those of a man true to one with whom, for years, 
he had been so intimately associated. From James 
Oakes these were tributes of the heart gems of true 
friendship. 

EDWIN FORREST S LAST LETTER. 
The last letter written by Mr. Forrest was penned 
by him on the day before his death. It was directed 
to James Oakes, Esq., Boston, but was returned to Phil 
adelphia, Mr. Oakes, the moment he heard of the de 
mise of his old friend, coming on at once. Mr. Oakes 
had sent Mr. Forrest the caricature of a clergyman 
who had so many calls for locks of hair, that he was 
almost shorn bald by his admirers. "Kate" and 
" Lizzie," who are mentioned, were his two faithful 
Irish servants. 

" PHILADELPHIA, December llth, 1872. 
" DEAR FRIEND OAKES : I have received your three 
letters with the enclosures. That poor devil of a parson 
was barberoiisly treated by his congregation. He ought 
to have known to do what he thought was right was his 
only course one can t serve God and Mammon too. The 
sheet of foolscap, with water-mark of 1801, is a rare thing; 
thanks for it. I got to New York on Sunday, just before 
six A. M., and went to the Metropolitan Hotel; ordered a 
room and a fire, and went to bed, and there lay thinking 
what a pleasant time I was indebted to you for in Boston. 
Why, the next week passed away like an ecstatic dream, 
without any let or hindrance. Yesterday was the coolest 
day of the season here, and I found the scarf, wrought by 
the fair hands of Miss Georgie, a true comforter ; and again 
gratefully thanked her for it. The bouquet brought me by 
Mrs. Lane is now on my dressing-table, with scarcely a 
leaflet blighted, and its perfume breathes upon the air night 
and day, telling me of her kindness. The girls, Lizzie and 



488 LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 

Kate, were delighted to receive your kind remembrance 
of them, and thank you very much. The article from the 
Traveller is good, and vows nothing but truth, and it does 
blow so does Gabriel s horn and at the right time, too. 
It needs something to wake the dead. 

"I hope you have been vaccinated, as you promised 
me, for that terrible pest the small-pox is a hideous and 
fearful thing. Don t neglect yourself in this duty, which 
you owe to all who love you. 

" Remember me to your sister, to Mrs. Lane, and to 
Miss Georgie, and also to Mr. Lane, with whom I was 
much pleased. 

" God bless you ever, my dear and much valued friend. 

"EDWIN FORREST. 
"JAMES OAKES, Esq., Boston." 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

THE EULOGIES OF THE PRESS THROUGHOUT THE 
COUNTRY. THE SUNDAY DISPATCH. THE FUNE 
RAL. THE BODY. THE COFFIN. SURROUNDING 

OBJECTS. THE IVORY CRUCIFIX. EXCITEMENT 

AMONG THE CROWD. THE DOORS THROWN OPEN. 

INCIDENTS AT THE FUNERAL. TESTIMONIALS. 

LOTUS CLUB, OF NEW YORK. THE VAULT. THE 

LAST CEREMONY. BEAUTIFUL POEMS. 

r\ \HE moment the death of Mr. Forrest was an- 
-*- nounced, the press everywhere teemed with articles 
speaking of his merits as an actor, and the popularity 
he had gained as being one of the ablest representa 
tives of Shakesperian characters of the age in which he 
lived and died. Biographical reminiscences, eulogistic 
notices, and appropriate verses to his memory, occu 
pied the columns of the papers for days and weeks after 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 489 

he was laid in the still and silent grave. Fame and 
glory to him were things of the past. 

" If," said the editor of the Sunday Dispatch., of 
Philadelphia, "to be famous were to be happy, then 
Edwin Forrest was to be envied. It cannot be said 
of his death, as it was of Garrick s, that f it eclipsed 
the gayety of nations ; but it startled not only this 
city, in which he was born, but the whole nation. The 
death of such a man has the effect of a great disaster 
the dethronement of a king, the defeat of an army, the 
burning of a city ; the surprise and shock of the sud 
den death of Mr. Forrest has been felt in every part of 
this country, for he had impressed his age not only by 
his intellectual force, but by a strongly-marked charac 
ter and actions which were independent of his career 
upon the stage. It is certain that the death of no 
other actor of our time could have commanded equal 
attention from the world. For fifty years he bore his 
part in a personal drama which had millions of specta 
tors. It was a play in which splendor and gloom, tri 
umph and defeat, pain and pleasure, were strangely 
contrasted, and which became mournful as it drew near 
its close. Now the great tragedian, who acted death 
so often in jest, has played that tragedy in earnest, and 
the curtain has fallen upon the drama." 

We quote this passage, with more than ordinary 
pleasure, from the fact that a very unpleasant litiga 
tion between the actor and the publishers of the Dis 
patch grew out of an article which appeared in that 
paper, intended, it seems, as a burlesque, giving im 
aginary interviews between the actor and the critic. 
Mr. Forrest felt himself aggrieved, hence the suit. 
The following manly card, from the proprietors of the 



490 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Dispatch, settled the unpleasant affair, and Mr. For 
rest admitted to us that a more satisfactory acknow 
ledgment of what he considered at the time an insult, 
could not have been made : 

" To THE PUBLIC. It will perhaps be remembered by 
most of our readers that Mr. Edwin Forrest brought a 
libel suit against the proprietors of this paper, for articles 
which appeared in our issues of the tenth, seventeenth, and 
twenty-fourth of November, 1867. The solicitations and 
representations of mutual friends have induced Mr. Forrest 
generously to consent to the withdrawal of the case. 

" Under these circumstances it becomes our duty, as it 
is our pleasure, to express our regret at the publication of 
the articles in question. The articles complained of were, 
we frankly admit, beyond the limits of dramatic criticism, 
and the present proprietors, who saw them first when 
printed, were at the time, and still are, sincerely sorry 
they appeared. 

" Though not personally acquainted with Mr. Forrest, 
we do know what the world knows that he has always 
been prompt and faithful in his professional engagements ; 
and his bitterest enemies if he have any must admit that 
he is not only eminent in his profession, but especially free 
from the vice of intemperance." 

The funeral took place on Monday morning, De 
cember 16th, 1872. As if the spirit of Shakespeare 
exercised an influence here below great ruler of the 
"mimic world" this passage from King Henry VI. 
would almost seem to connect it with the solemnities 
of the day. "Hung be the heavens with black!" was 
literally so on the morning of the funeral. 

The body lay in a large reception room, directly be 
yond the main entrance from Broad Street. The cas 
ket was covered with black cloth, and was silver- 
mounted six silver handles being distributed on its 
sides. The lid bore this simple, modest inscription : 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 491 

"EDWIN FORREST. 
" Born March 9, 1806. Died December 12, 1872." 

The body was laid out in a full dress suit of black ; 
and the hands, whose gestures had so often led on ap 
plause, were folded restfully upon its breast. Most 
natural and life-like was the countenance hardly sub 
dued with the pallor of death, exhibiting no trace of 
pain, and presenting all its well-known energetic firm 
ness. 

Trimmed and constructed of the choicest and most 
fragrant flowers, crosses, wreaths, and other floral em 
blems lay upon the casket and upon the body it en 
closed. Their odor, funereal yet sweet, penetrated all 
the atmosphere of the room. 

There was one other object in this room which, 
while it attracted the attention of those present, elicit 
ed whispered comments, such as "Was he a Catho 
lic?" "Where will they bury him?" etc. This ob 
ject was an ivory-carved figure of our Saviour on the 
cross, about one foot in length. This beautiful piece 
of art was sculptured by a monk in Italy, from whom 
Mr. Forrest purchased it. He paid for it three hundred 
dollars. This ivory crucifix occupying so prominent a 
place in the chamber of death, gave rise to the report 
that he was a Roman Catholic. On one side of the 
room was a large mirror, on the other a piano, an old- 
fashioned sideboard stood back. There were no pic 
tures in this room, nor ornaments, besides those named. 

The body and the room in which it lay, was under 
the immediate charge of the following gentlemen : 
Messrs. James Oakes, Daniel Dougherty, John W. 
Forney, James Rees, John McArdle and Gabriel 



492 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

Harrison. The formal invitation to the funeral was 
in these words : 

" DEAR SIR : You are requested to attend the funeral 
of the late Edwin Forrest, which will take place on Mon 
day next, December 16th, at one o clock P. M., from his 
late residence, No. 1346 North Broad Street." 

To carry out the well-known wishes of Mr. Forrest, 
the purpose was to admit no one into the death cham 
ber but his immediate friends. It had been the inten 
tion to exclude the general public from the house of 
death and a review of the remains, but this determina 
tion had to be abandoned. Several causes conspired 
to this. First, there was the strong pressure of a 
conviction that they who had been the admirers and 
applauders of the great tragedian during his life, had 
almost a right, certainly were entitled to the privilege 
of looking upon him, lying in that death he had so 
often simulated ; and then there was the difficulty, the 
impossibility of obtaining police officers to keep cleared 
of the populace the front of the house, since all of 
them were engaged in the taking of the census of the 
school children on that day. 

By ten o clock, a large number of the sad and 
curious had gathered on the Broad Street sidewalk, 
and hemmed in the entrance to the house. The doors 
were kept vigilantly barred to all save those having the 
right of entrance the, friends and acquaintances of 
the deceased, the gentlemen having the obsequies in 
charge, and those specially invited to participate in the 
last funeral rites. These were admitted, but with 
difficulty. The difficulties increased as the throng 
augmented, and at length grew to be insufferable. 
Then the original programme of privacy had to be 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 493 

cast aside, the populace admitted in order to free the 
pressure upon the doors, and the body of the dis 
tinguished dead exposed to public gaze. A line of 
people extending from the main entrance to the room 
in which Mr. Forrest s body lay, was formed, and kept 
unbroken by those coming in and those going out, 
until the funeral services began. Surely fifteen hun 
dred, probably two thousand persons passed in to look 
upon his remains. 

These the hundreds of visitors were made up 
of all classes. They were the general public. Not 
a few among them were members of the dramatic pro 
fession, and to these were added those who had busi 
ness relations with Mr. Forrest, the neighbors of Broad 
Street and other streets of the vicinity ; those to whom 
he had shown kindness in his lifetime, and then the 
rude, vulgar crowd of the curious. Ladies predom 
inated in the multitude. 

INCIDENTS AT THE FUNERAL. 

Among those who came into the room to take a 
last look upon all that remained of the great actor, 
was an old lady, who approached the coffin and stood 
gazing upon the features of the deceased for several 
moments gazing intently. She was weeping, too; 
but as others wept, this attracted no particular atten 
tion. It was not until after tearing herself away from 
the side of the body, she thought of something which 
she could retain as a memento of the deceased : ap 
proaching us, she said: " Could you let me have a lock 
of his hair, sir ? " 

u No, madam, that is impossible, as the body is 
now prepared for its last resting-place." 



494 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKEEST. 

" ! sir, if you only knew what a good friend ho 
was to me and mine, you would try to let me have it- 
something to keep as a remembrance/ and again she 
shed tears. Who she was we knew not, but that she 
had good reason to remember him, was evident from 
her desire to have some memorial of one for whom she 
grieved so much. 

Another lady came to us on that sad morning, and 
stated that Mr. Forrest owned a lot in a cemetery in 
the lower part of the city, and when her husband died 
who was an old friend of Mr. Forrest s he generously 
offered her his lot for a place of burial. " I have," she 
said, " a son buried there also. Do you think/ she 
asked, "the executors will cause the bodies to be 
removed ? " 

" No, madam," we replied ; " the lot in which no 
member of Mr. Forrest s family is buried, is yours, al 
though it is in his name. This, we can assure you, 
madam rest satisfied. We will, however, mention 
this to the gentlemen who will have charge of Mr. For 
rest s affairs, and can vouch for their respecting the 
dead who lie there, as they will respect the memory of 
him who so generously tendered its use for your family." 

Another old lady and strange as it may seem, all 
those who seemed the most distressed were aged 
walked up to the coffin-, gazed for a moment on the 
marble features, life-like, in death ; then gently recli 
ning her head, imprinted a kiss on his forehead, and 
silently walked, away. Then there came an old actor 
he stood gazing on the corpse ; tears came into his 
eyes, a sigh escaped him, and wiping the former away, 
he passed hastily through the crowd the very picture 
of one who had lost a near and dear friend. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 495 

Of all those who came and went on that sad occa 
sion, these were the only ones, among the many, who 
seemed fully impressed with the loss they had sus 
tained, and who might well have said with Hamlet : 

" We have that within that passeth show : 
These but the trapping s and the suits of wo." 

" MEETING OF ACTORS. On Saturday, December 14th, 
on the stage of the Walnut Street Theatre, a meeting of 
the dramatic fraternity was held to take suitable action on 
the death of the great tragedian. The attendance was 
large. Mr. Thomas A. Hall temporarily presided, and 
after a sketch of the merits of the deceased as a man and 
as an artist, Mr. Lewis Baker was selected as permanent 
chairman, and Mr. B. W. Turner as secretary. 

"It was resolved, on motion of Mr. Lewis Morrison, 
seconded by Mr. E. L. Davenport, that all the members 
of the profession attend the funeral, and that the gentle 
men wear a band of crape on the left arm, and the ladies 
such a token of mourning as they might select. On mo 
tion, a committee was appointed to draft an appropriate 
testimonial, and publish it as the sense of the meeting, 
in regard to the great loss the stage has sustained in 
the death of Mr. Forrest. The committee consisted of 
Messrs. T. A. Hall, William H. Bailey, C. H. Morton, 
E. L. Davenport, and Lewis Morrison. 

" Mr. Morton moved that notices be posted in the 
green-rooms of all the theatres, informing the members of 
the companies that the funeral would take place at one 
o clock on Monday, the IGth, and invite them to attend. 

" Mr. Davenport said that while he rendered every 
tribute to the memory of the great man, he thought, that 
all ostentation by the members of the profession ought to 
be avoided, and he moved to amend the resolution by pro 
viding that the notices should merely announce the time 
of the funeral, and that the members should attend indi 
vidually, and not as a body. The motion, as amended, 
was adopted. The meeting then adjourned." 

ACTION OF THE NEW YORK ACTORS. 

At a meeting of actors held in New York on Sun- 



496 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

day, 15th of December, at the Metropolitan Hotel, 
the following resolutions were adopted : 

" Whereas. The Almighty has, in His good time, seen 
fit to remove from our midst, ripe in years and with an 
honored name, Edwin Forrest, the Nestor of the American 
stage : 

" Resolved, That in the death of the man who may be 
said to have almost been the representative of the drama 
in his native country, and whose indomitable will, large 
intellect, and devotion to his profession, have rendered him 
an honor to the walk of life which he adopted, that not 
alone the stage, but the entire intelligent portion of the 
community, have sustained a loss that will be deeply and 
profoundly felt. 

" Resolved, That we recognize in the career of Edwin 
Forrest, a bright incentive to those who have entered upon 
the actor s life a life which has already given many ex 
amples of goodness and rectitude, and, in the case of the 
deceased, has tended to elevate the stage and call attention 
to its objects by the votaries of the drama in his native 
land. 

" Resolved, That while we deplore his taking off as a 
loss to his profession, still we bow our heads in submission 
to a mightier will, and find consolation in the fact that 
Edwin Forrest was taken from a life of suffering to one 
where trouble cannot reach him further. The life-string 
may be snapped, but the memory of the actor, the scholar, 
and the man, cannot perish, but will live to a bright and 
glorious future." 

The Lotus Club, of New York, having signified its 
intention of sending on a delegation of its members, 
headed by Mayor Hall, as a mark of respect for the 
deceased tragedian preparations were made for the 
reception of the delegation, and a place assigned it in 
the funeral cortege. 

The delegation left New York at seven and a-half 
o clock in the morning, and were met at the West 
Philadelphia depot on their arrival by Mr. Harrison 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 497 

and Mr. McMinn, and taken to Mr. Forrest s residence, 
at Broad and Master streets, in carriages. 

The following gentlemen were designated as pall 
bearers : 

Mr. James Oakes, of Boston; Mr. James Lawson, 
of New York ; Daniel Dougherty, Esq. ; Colonel 
John W. Forney ; Dr. Jesse R. Burden ; Dr. Samuel 
D. Gross ; George W. Childs, Esq., and Colonel James 
Page, of Philadelphia. 

Ex-Mayor John Swift, one of the earliest friends of 
Mr. Forrest, would also have served as a pall-bearer 
had his age and infirmities permitted. A carriage was 
sent to his house for him in the morning, but he was 
too feeble to venture out. 

At the appointed hour the usual funeral service of 
the Church of England was performed over the body, 
conducted by Rev. Mr. Newlin, of the Church of the 
Incarnation, and Rev. Mr. Boyer, of St. Paul s. 

The body was then borne to the hearse in waiting, 
and the funeral cortege, consisting of about fifty car 
riages, moved off in the following order : Pall-bearers, 
domestics of the house, near friends of the deceased, 
the Lotus Club, members of the dramatic profession, 
and others invited. 

As the solemn procession moved along, throngs of 
people lined the streets, gazing sorrowfully upon the 
hearse containing the body of one who for upwards of 
forty years enchanted them with his great histrionic 
powers. The cold drizzling rain did not deter them 
from following the funeral cortege to the place of burial. 
On its arrival at the church, the crowd was so large 
that there was great difficulty in entering the graveyard. 
On every countenance there was an expression of sad- 
31 



498 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ness, and when the last words were said, " dust to dust, 
and ashes to ashes/ the pent up feelings of the crowd 
gave way in an audible sigh. 

Beneath a weeping sky, and in the midst of a 
chilling atmosphere, the remains of America s greatest 
tragedian were consigned to their last resting-place. 
In a vault in the old graveyard attached to St. Paul s 
church, along with the mouldering bones and the de 
caying coffins of those who had gone before him, 
rests the earthy form of one whose name, though 
lowly and humble at first, became great in " mouths 
of wisest censure." 

" What monument 

Is wanted, where affection has enshrined 
The memory of the dead ? Grief must have spent 
Itself, before one thought to such poor theme is lent." 

" The curtain falls. The drama of life 

Is ended. One who trod the mimic stage 

As if the crown, the sceptre and the robe 

Were his by birthright worn from youth to age 

* Aye, every inch a king, with voiceless lips, 

Lies in the shadow of death s cold eclipse." 

The following beautiful poem, from Lippincott s 
Magazine, adds another incident to those we have 
given of the kindness of heart of that distinguished 
gentleman : 

A TRUE INCIDENT. 

BY LUCY H. HOOPER. 

All night long the baby voice 

Wailed pitiful and low ; 
All night long the mother paced 

Wearily to and fro, 
Striving to woo to these dim eyes 

Health-giving slumbers deep ; 
Striving to stay the flutt ring life 

With heavenly balm of sleep. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 499 

Three nights have passed the fourth has come, 

Oh, weary, weary feet ! 
That still must wander to and fro 

Relief and rest were sweet. 
But still the pain-wrung, ceaseless moan 

Breaks from the baby breast, 
And still the mother strives to soothe 

The suff ring child to rest. 

Lo, at the door a giant form 

Stands sullen, grand, and vast ; 
Over that broad brow every storm 

Life s clouds can send has past. 
Those features of heroic mould 

Can awaken awe or fear ; 
Those eyes have known Othello s scowl, 

The maniac glare of Lear. 

The deep, full voice, whose tones can sweep 

In thunder to the ear, 
Has learned such softness that the babe 

Can only smile to hear. 
The strong arms fold the little form 

Upon the massive breast. 
" Go, mother, / will watch your child," 

He whispers, " go and rest." 

All night long the giant form 

Treads gently to and fro ; 
All night long the deep voice speaks 

In murmured soothings low, 
Until the rose-light of the morn 

Flushes the far-off skies, 
In slumber sweet on Forrest? 8 breast 

At last the baby lies. 



Low lies the actor now at rest 
Beneath the summer light ; 

Sweet be his sleep as that he gave 
The suffering child that night! 



CHAPTER XL VII. 

THE WILL OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

X EDWIN FORREST, of the city of Philadelphia, 
-*- 5 State of Pennsylvania, do make and publish this 
my last will and testament. I give, bequeath, and 
devise unto my friends, James Oakes, Esq., of Boston, 
James Lawson, Esq., of New York, and Daniel Dough 
erty, Esq., of Philadelphia, all my property and estate, 
real and personal, of whatsoever description and 
wheresoever situated, upon the trusts and confidences 
hereinafter expressed ; and I also appoint them my 
executors to administer my personal estate and bring 
it into the hands of said trustees ; that is to say, upon 
trust. 

First. That they, the said trustees, the survivors or 
survivor of them, shall be authorized to sell all my 
real estate, at public or private sale, at such times as in 
their judgment shall appear to be for the best advan 
tage of my estate, excepting from this power my coun 
try-place in the Twenty-third ward of the city of Phil 
adelphia, called " Springbrook," and to convey to 
purchasers thereof a good title in fee simple, discharged 
of all trusts and obligation, to see to the application of 
the purchase moneys ; and such purchase moneys, and 
the proceeds of all the personal estate, shall be 
invested in such securities and loans as are made 

(500) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 5Q1 

lawful investments by the laws of Pennsylvania, and 
shall be in the joint names of the trustees under my 
will. The investments which I shall have made my 
executors or trustees may retain or change, as they 
may think for the best advantage of my estate. 

Secondly. Upon trust to pay to my two sisters 
Caroline and Eleanora, jointly, while both remain 
single, and to the survivor of them, until her marriage 
or death, which shall first happen, an annuity of six 
thousand dollars, in equal quarterly payments in 
advance, from the date of my decease ; and should one 
marry, then to pay the said annuity of six thousand 
dollars unto the other until marriage or death, which 
ever event shall first happen; said annuity, however, 
not to be a charge upon any real estate which shall be 
sold, but only upon the proceeds, and upon trust to 
permit my said sisters and the survivor of them to use 
and occupy my country place, called Springbrook, with 
the necessary furniture and utensils and stock, until 
marriage or death as aforesaid, free of all charge for 
rent, and to take the income and profits thereof; and 
the said trustees shall pay the taxes thereon and keep 
the same in repair. 

Thirdly. To take and hold all said property and 
estate in trust for an institution which they will call 
" The Edwin Forrest Home," to embrace the purposes 
of which I hereinafter give the outline, which institu 
tion shall be established at my country place called 
Springbrook, certainly within twenty-one years after 
the decease of the survivor of my said sisters, and 
sooner, if found judiciously practicable. The following 
is an Outline of my Plan for said Home, which may be 
filled out in more detail by the charter and by-laws : 



502 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ARTICLE 1. The said institution shall be for the 
support and maintenance of actors and actresses, 
decayed by age or disabled by infirmity, who, if natives 
of the United States, shall have served at least five 
years in the theatrical profession, and if of foreign birth, 
shall have served in that profession at least ten years, 
whereof three years, next previous to the application, 
shall have been in the United States, and who shall in 
all things comply with the laws and regulations of the 
Home, otherwise to be subject to be discharged by the 
managers, whose decision shall be final. 

ARTICLE 2. The number of inmates in the Home 
shall never exceed the annual net rent and revenue of 
the institution ; and after the number of inmates 
therein shall exceed twelve, others to be admitted shall 
be such only as shall receive the approval of the 
majority of the inmates as well as of the managers. 

ARTICLE 3. The said corporation shall be managed 
by a board of managers, seven in number, who shall in 
the first instance be chosen by the said trustees, and 
shall include themselves so long as any of them shall 
be living ; and also the Mayor of the city of Philadel 
phia for the time being ; and as vacancies shall occur, 
the existing managers shall from time to time fill them, 
so that, if practicable, only one vacancy shall ever exist 
at a time. 

ARTICLE 4. The managers shall elect one of their 
number to be the president of the institution ; appoint 
a treasurer and secretary, steward and matron, and, if 
needed, a clerk ; the said treasurer, secretary, steward, 
matron, and clerk, subject to be at any time discharged 
by the managers. Except the treasurer, the said offi 
cers may be chosen from the inmates of the Home, and 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 5Q3 

the treasurer shall not be a manager, nor either of his 
sureties. The managers shall also appoint a physician 
for the Home. 

ARTICLE 5. Should there be any failure of the 
managers to fill any vacancy which may occur in their 
board for three months, or should they in any respect 
fail to fulfil their trust, according to the intent of my 
will and the charter of the institution, it is my will 
that, upon the petition of any two or more of said 
managers, or of the Mayor of the city, the Orphans 
Court of Philadelphia county, shall make such ap 
pointments to fill any vacancy or vacancies, and all 
orders and decrees necessary to correct any failure or 
breach of trust, which shall appear to said court to be 
required, as in case of any other testamentary trust, so 
that the purposes of this charity may never fail or be 
abused. 

ARTICLE 6. The purposes of the said " Edwin For 
rest Home" are intended to be partly educational and 
self-sustaining, as well as eleemosynary, and never to 
encourage idleness or thriftlessness in any one who are 
capable of any useful exertion. My library shall be 
placed therein, in precise manner as it now exists in 
my house in Broad Street, Philadelphia. There shall 
be a neat and pleasant theatre for private exhibitions 
and histrionic culture. There shall be a picture gallery 
for the preservation and exhibition of my collection of 
engravings, pictures, statuary, and other works of art, 
to which additions may be made from time to time, if 
the revenues of the institution shall suffice. These 
objects are not only intended to improve the taste, but 
to promote the health and happiness of the inmates 
and such visitors as may be admitted. 



504 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

ARTICLE 7. Also, as a means of preserving health, 
and consequently, the happiness of the inmates, as 
well as to aid in sustaining the Home, there shall he 
lectures and readings therein, upon oratory and the 
histrionic art, to which pupils shall he admitted upon 
such terms and under such regulations as the managers 
may prescribe. The garden and grounds are to he 
made productive of profit, as well as of health and 
pleasure ; and, so far as capahle, the inmates, not 
otherwise profitably occupied, shall assist in farming, 
horticulture, and the cultivation of flowers in the gar 
den and conservatory. 

ARTICLE 8. "The Edwin Forrest Home" may, 
also, if the revenues shall suffice, embrace in its plan, 
lectures on science, literature, and the arts; but pref 
erably, oratory and the histrionic art, in manner to pre 
pare the American citizen for the more creditable and 
effective discharge of his public duties, and to raise the 
education and intellectual and moral tone and charac 
ter of actors, that thereby they may elevate the drama, 
and cause it to subserve its true and great mission to 
mankind as their profoundest teacher of virtue and 
morality. 

ARTICLE 9. The " Edwin Forrest Home " shall 
also be made to promote the love of liberty, our 
country, and her institutions ; to hold in honor the 
name of the great dramatic bard, as well as to cultivate 
a taste and afford opportunity for the enjoyment of 
social rural pleasures. Therefore, there shall be read 
therein to the inmates and public, by an inmate or 
pupil thereof, the immortal Declaration of Indepen 
dence, as written by Thomas Jefferson, without expur 
gation, on every fourth day of July, to be followed by 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 505 

an oration, under the folds of our national flag. There 
shall be prepared and read therein, before the like as 
semblage, on the birthday of Shakespeare, the 23d of 
April in every year, an eulogy upon his character and 
writings, and one of his plays, or scenes from his plays, 
shall on that day be represented in the theatre. And 
on the first Monday of every June and October, the 
" Edwin Forrest Home " and grounds shall be opened 
for the admission of ladies and gentlemen of the the 
atrical profession and their friends, in the manner of 
social picnics, when all shall provide their own enter 
tainments. 

The foregoing general outline of my plan of the 
institution I desire to establish has been sketched du 
ring my preparations for a long voyage by sea and land ; 
and, should Grod spare my life, it is my purpose to be 
more full and definite ; but should I leave no later will 
or codicil, my friends who sympathize in my purposes 
will execute them in the best and fullest manner pos 
sible ; understanding that they have been long medita 
ted by me, and are very dear to my heart. They will 
also remember that my professional brothers and sisters 
are often unfortunate, and that little has been done for 
them, either to elevate them in their profession, or to 
provide for their necessities under sickness or other mis 
fortunes. God has favored my efforts and given me 
great success, and I would make my fortune the means 
to elevate the education of others and promote their 
success, and to alleviate their suffering, and smooth 
the pillows of the unfortunate in sickness, or other dis 
ability, or the decay of declining years. 

These are the grounds upon which I would appeal 
to the Legislature of my native State, to the chief 



506 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

magistrate of my native city, to the Courts and my 
fellow-citizens to assist my purposes, which I believe 
to be demanded by the just claims of humanity, and by 
that civilization and refinement which spring from in 
tellectual and moral culture. 

I, therefore, lay it as a duty on my trustees to 
frame a bill which the Legislature may enact, as and 
for the charter of said institution, which shall ratify the 
articles in said outline of plan ; shall authorize the 
Mayor of the city to act as one of its managers, and the 
said court to exercise the visitatorial jurisdiction in 
voked, and prevent streets from being run through 
so much of the Springbrook ground as shall include the 
buildings and sixty acres of ground. Such a charter 
being obtained, the corporation shall be authorized, at 
a future period to sell the grounds outside said space, 
the proceeds to be applied to increase the endowment 
and usefulness of the Home. And so far as I shall not 
have built to carry out my views, I authorize the said 
managers, with consent of my sisters, or survivor of 
them, having a right to reside at Springbrook, to pro 
ceed to erect and build the buildings required by my 
outline of plan, and toward their erection apply the in 
come, accumulated or current, of my estate. And 
should my sisters consent, or the survivor of them 
consent, in case of readiness to open the Home, to re 
move therefrom, a comfortable house shall be provided 
for them elsewhere, furnished, and rent and taxes paid, 
as required in respect to Springbrook, at the cost and 
charge of my estate, or of the said corporation, if then 
in possession thereof. 

Whensoever the requisite charter shall be obtained, 
and the corporation be organized and ready to proceed 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 5Q7 

to carry out its design, then it shall be the duty of the 
said trustees to assign and convey all of my said pro 
perty and estate unto said " Edwin Forrest Home," 
their successors and assigns forever, and for the latter 
to execute and deliver, under the corporate seal, a full 
and absolute discharge and acquittance forever, with 
or without auditing of accounts by an auditor of the 
court, as they may think proper, unto the said exec 
utors and trustees. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand 
and seal this fifth day of April, eighteen hundred and 
sixty-six. 

[L. s.] EDWIN FORREST. 

Signed, sealed, delivered, and published as and for 
his last will and testament, by Edwin Forrest, in our 
presence, who, at his request and in his presence and in 
presence of each other, have hereunto set our hands as 
witnesses thereto. 



ELiK. 

H. C. TOWNSEND, 

J. SERGEANT PRICE. 

WJiereas, I, Edwin Forrest, of the city of Philadel 
phia, State of Pennsylvania, having made and duly 
executed my last will and testament, in writing, bear 
ing date the fifth day of April, 1866, now I do hereby 
declare this present writing to be as a codicil to my 
said will, and direct the same to be annexed thereto, 
and taken as a part thereof : 

And I do hereby give and bequeath unto my friend 
James Lawson, Esq., of the city of New York, the sum 
of five thousand dollars ; and also to my friend Daniel 



508 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Dougherty, Esq., the sum of five thousand dollars; 
and also to my beloved friend Miss Elizabeth, some 
times called Lillie Welsh, eldest daughter of John R. 
Welsh, broker, of Philadelphia, the sum of five thou 
sand dollars ; and also to my friend S. S. Smith, Esq., 
of Cincinnati, Ohio, the sum of two thousand dollars ; 
and also to the benevolent society called the " Actors 
Order of Friendship," the first one of that name 
established in Philadelphia, I will and bequeath the 
like sum of two thousand dollars. 

In witness ivJiereof, I, the said Edwin Forrest, 
have to this codicil set my hand and seal, this fifth 
day of April, 1866. 

[L. s.] EDWIN FORREST. 

Published and declared as a codicil to his will in 
our presence, by Edwin Forrest, who, in his presence 
and at his request, have signed as witnesses, in the 
presence of each other. Bu K PRK ^ 

H. C. TOWNSEND, 

J. SERGEANT PRICE. 



Whereas, I have this day, October 18, 1871, pro 
vided my friend, James Oakes, with an annuity of 
twenty-five hundred dollars during his life, I have 
erased from this codicil, and do revoke the five thou 
sand dollars legacy to him, and now do bequeath the 
said sum of five thousand dollars intended for James 
Oakes to my beloved friend, Miss Elizabeth, some 
times called Lillie Welsh, eldest daughter of John 
K. Welsh, broker, of Philadelphia. This five thou 
sand dollars is to be given in addition to the sum of 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 509 

five thousand dollars already bequeathed to the said 
Miss Welsh, making in all to her the gift of ten 
thousand dollars ($10,000). 

In witness whereof I set my hand and seal. 

[L. s.] EDWIN FORREST. 

Witnesses present at signing : 

GEO. C. THOMAS, 
J. PAUL DIVER. 

STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, 

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, ss : 

Be it remembered that on this nineteenth day of 
October, in the year one thousand eight hundred and 
seventy-one (A. D. 1871), before me, J. Paul Diver, a 
notary public, resident in the city of Philadelphia, 
duly commissioned and qualified by the Executive 
authority, and under the laws of the State of Penn 
sylvania, personally appeared before me Edwin Forrest, 
to me known to be the individual named in and who 
executed the foregoing codicil to his will, and acknowl 
edged that he signed and sealed the same in the pres 
ence of witnesses. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand 
and affixed the official seal as such notary public, the 
day and year aforesaid. 

J. PAUL DIVER, Notary Public. 

[Notarial Seal.] 



CHAPTER XLYIII. 

AN ACT TO INCORPORATE THE "EDWIN FORREST 
HOME." 

QjECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and 
k- House of Representatives of the Commonwealth 
of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is 
hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That 
JAMES OAKES of Boston, JAMES LAWSON of New 
York, DANIEL DOUGHERTY, JOHN W. FORNEY, 
JAMES H. CASTLE, JOHN H. MICHENER, and the 
Mayor of Philadelphia, and their successors, are 
hereby made a body politic, by the name of "The 
Edwin Forrest Home," with perpetual succession, 
and have and use a common seal, and be capable to 
sue and be sued, in law and equity, and to take, 
hold, and convey real and personal estate of an an 
nual income not exceeding thirty thousand dollars : 
As vacancies shall occur the existing managers shall 
from time to time fill them, so that, if practicable, 
only one vacancy shall ever exist at one time, and 
the board may consist of seven managers ; the Mayor 
will be a manager only during his term of office. 

SECTION 2. The said "Edwin Forrest Home" 
shall be established at the country seat of the late 
Edwin Forrest, called Springbrook, and shall be for 

(510) 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 5H 

the support and maintenance of actors and actresses, 
decayed by age, or disabled by infirmity, who, if 
natives of the United States, shall have served at 
least five years in the theatrical profession, and if of 
foreign birth, shall have served in that profession at 
least ten years, whereof three years next previous to 
the application shall have been in the United States, 
and who shall in all things comply with the laws 
and regulations of the Home, otherwise to be subject 
to be discharged by the managers, whose decision 
shall be final. 

SECTION 3. The number of inmates in the Home 
shall never exceed the annual net rent and revenue of 
the institution, and after the number of inmates 
therein shall exceed twelve, others to be admitted 
shall be such only as shall receive the approval of 
the majority of the inmates as well as of the man 
agers. 

SECTION 4. The managers shall elect one of their 
number to be the president of the institution, appoint 
a treasurer and secretary, steward and matron, and, if 
needed, a clerk the said treasurer, secretary, steward, 
matron and clerk subject to be at any time dis 
charged by the managers. Except the treasurer, the 
said officers may be chosen from the inmates of the 
Home, and the treasurer shall not be a manager, nor 
either of his sureties. The managers shall also ap 
point a physician for the home. 

SECTION 5. Should there be any failure of the 
managers to fill any vacancy which may occur in 
their board for three months, or should they in any 
respect fail to fulfil their trust, according to the 
intent of the will of said Edwin Forrest and 



512 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

the charter of the institution, upon the petition 
of any two or more of said managers, or of the 
Mayor of the City, the Orphans Court of Phila 
delphia county shall make such appointments to 
fill any vacancy or vacancies, and all orders and 
decrees necessary to correct any failure or breach of 
trust which shall appear to said court to be re 
quired, as in case of any other testamentary trust, 
so that the purposes of this charity may never fail 
or be abused. 

SECTION 6. The said institution shall be so 
conducted as to carry into eifect the following 
provisions of the will of the late Edwin Forrest, 
and the Orphans Court for the county of Philadel 
phia shall have and exercise all the powers therein 
expressed. 

"The purposes of the said Edwin Forrest Home 
are intended to be partly educational and self-sustain 
ing, as well as eleemosynary, and never to encourage 
idleness or thriftlessness in any who are capable of 
any useful exertion. My library shall be placed 
therein, in precise manner as it now exists in my 
house in Broad street, Philadelphia. There shall be 
a neat and pleasant theatre for private exhibitions 
and histrionic culture. There shall be a picture gal 
lery for the preservation and exhibition of my col 
lection of engravings, pictures, statuary, and other 
works of art, to which additions may be made 
from time to time, if the revenues of the institu 
tion shall suffice. These objects are not only in 
tended to improve the taste, but to promote the 
health and happiness of the inmates and such visitors 
as may be admitted. 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 513 

"Also, as a means of preserving health, and con 
sequently, the happiness of the inmates, as well as 
to aid in sustaining the Home, there shall be lectures 
and readings therein, upon oratory and the histrionic 
art, to which pupils shall be admitted upon such 
terms and under such regulations as the managers 
may prescribe. The garden and grounds are to be 
made productive of profit, as well as of health and 
pleasure; and, so far as capable, the inmates, not 
otherwise profitably occupied, shall assist in farming, 
horticulture, and the cultivation of flowers in the 
garden and conservatory. 

" The Edwin Forrest Home may, also, if the 
revenues shall suffice, embrace in its plan, lectures 
on science, literature, and the arts ; but preferably, 
oratory and the histrionic art, in manner to prepare 
the American citizen for the more creditable and 
effective discharge of his public duties, and to raise 
the education and intellectual and moral tone and 
character of actors, that thereby they may elevate 
the drama, and cause it to subserve its true and 
great mission to mankind as their profoundest teacher 
of virtue and morality. 

" The Edwin Forrest Home shall also be made to 
promote the love of liberty, our country, and her 
institutions; to hold in honor the name of the great 
dramatic bard, as well as to cultivate a taste and 
afford opportunity for the enjoyment of social rural 
pleasures. Therefore, there shall be read therein to 
the inmates and public, by an inmate or pupil thereof, 
the immortal Declaration of Independence, as written 
by Thomas Jefferson, without expurgation, on every 
fourth day of July, to be followed by an oration, 
32 



514 LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

under the folds of our national flag. There shall be 
prepared and read therein, before the like assem 
blage, on the birthday of Shakespeare, the 23d of 
April in every year, an eulogy upon his character 
and writings, and one of his plays, or scenes from 
his plays, shall on that day be represented in the 
theatre. And on the first Monday of every June 
and October, the ( Edwin Forrest Home and grounds 
shall be opened for the admission of ladies and gen 
tlemen of the theatrical profession and their friends, 
in the manner of social picnics, when all shall pro 
vide their own entertainments. 

" The foregoing general outline of my plan of the 
institution I desire to establish has been sketched 
during my preparations for a long voyage by sea and 
land; and, should God spare my life, it is my pur 
pose to be more full and definite ; but should I leave 
no later will or codicil, my friends who sympathize in 
my purposes will execute them in the best and fullest 
manner possible ; understanding that they have been 
long meditated by me, and are very dear to my heart. 
They will also remember that my professional brothers 
and sisters are often unfortunate, and that little has 
been done for them, either to elevate them in their 
profession, or to provide for their necessities under 
sickness or other misfortunes. God has favored my 
efforts and given me great success, and I would make 
my fortune the means to elevate the education of 
others and promote their success, and to alleviate their 
suffering, and smooth the pillows of the unfortunate 
in sickness, or other disability, or the decay of decli 
ning years." 

SECTION 7. That it shall be lawful, and it is here- 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 515 

by required that the Councils of the City of Phila 
delphia shall cause to be laid out, in connection with 
the city survey of the public plan, an area of sixty 
acres, to be surrounded by a street of sixty feet in 
width, and to include the buildings now on said place ; 
and the same being done, no streets or street shall ever 
thereafter be laid upon or run through said sixty acres 
without the consent of said board of managers : Pro 
vided, That said grounds shall be laid out with drives 
and walks, to be maintained in good order, upon which 
the public shall be admitted to enter for health and 
enjoyment, under rules and regulations to be estab 
lished by said Board of Managers, for designated times, 
not less than thirty hours in each week. And the said 
corporation shall thereafter be authorized to sell the 
residue of the grounds of said Springbrook estate, in 
fee simple ; the proceeds to be applied to increase the 
endowment and usefulness of said Home. The enclo 
sure around said open ground shall always be such as 
to permit persons five feet in height to look into them 
from the foot-pavement outside ; and there shall be at 
least four carriage-ways for entrance and departure, 
one on each side, and as many footways. 

SECTION 8. The said Board of Managers shall have 
power to ordain by-laws, and establish rules and regu 
lations, both for their own meetings and government 
and for the said institution, and the public admitted 
to visit the grounds ; and the said grounds, plants, 
library, and objects of art, shall have all the protec 
tion that cemeteries have from contiguous nuisances 
and mutilations, as if the laws relating to them were 
here enacted for the protection of this institution. 

SECTION 9. That said estate, so far as it shall go 



516 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

to said charity, shall be exempt and is hereby ex 
empted from the collateral inheritance tax. 

W. ELLIOTT, 

Speaker of the House of Representatives. 
GEO. H. ANDERSON, 

Speaker of the Senate. 

Approved the seventh day of April, Anno Domini 
one thousand eight hundred and seventy-three. 
J. F. HARTRANFT. 

Governor of Pennsylvania. 

OFFICE OF THE 
SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH, 

HARRISBURG, December 12, A. D. 1873. 
Jknnsgltmnia, 00 : 

I do hereby certify that the foregoing and annexed 
is a full, true and correct copy of the original act of 
the General Assembly entitled " An act to incorporate 
the Edwin Forrest Home," as the same remains on file 
in this office. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my 
hand, and caused the seal of the secretary s office to 
be affixed, the day and year above written. 

[SEAL.] JOHN B. LINN, 

Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

COMMENTS ON THE WILL OF EDWIN FORREST. SOME 
THING IN REGARD TO THE LOCALITY OF THE " ED 
WIN FORREST HOME." WILL IT SUIT THE VETERANS 

OF THE STAGE ? TOO FAR OUT OF TOWN. SPRING- 
BROOK IN THE MARKET FOR SALE ! THE WIFE S 

CLAIM. OBJECTIONABLE CLAUSE. THE PROPER 

PLACE FOR THE HOME. 

IN 1869, Mr. Forrest read to us the outline of a 
will, or at least that portion of it relative to the 
" Edwin Forrest Home." It differed in many respects 
from the one dated 1866. In it there was no allu 
sion to the "farm" or "labor." We had frequent 
conversations upon the subject, and gave our opinion 
openly upon several points of it. We are satisfied 
that in the outline he read to us, Springbrook was 
not the locale he had then in view. We said to 
him when he alluded to it that "if the house was 
ready for inmates to-morrow, he could not get three 
persons to avail themselves of its advantages." In 
the first place it was too far out of town, and the 
veterans of the stage would not like to lose sight 
of a theatre with which all their early associations 
were connected. 

A few years ago we had several old actors, who 
had retired from the stage, and who were nightly 

(517) 



I / S* V <- 

518 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEREST. 

seen at our theatres enjoying some good old play. 
To them the theatre was an oasis on life s dreary 
sands. Many of our readers will recall the names of 
these gentlemen : William B. Wood, Charles S. Porter, 
Charles Durang and Edward N. Thayer; not one of 
these old actors were so situated as to become inmates 
of a Home of this kind. How many years will elapse 
before Springbrook, as part of our city, will have 
a theatre ? A Home for sailors is generally near 
some river, thus giving the old tars an opportunity 
of seeing a vessel, commenting on the "dangers of 
the deep" and spinning long yarns to enliven the 
time. 

So should the actors Home be near to the scenes 
of their past labors ; take them from it, and you 
take away the one little star that should shine 
upon the darkening cloud of age. One of the old 
actors named above, speaking of the age of actors 
and the causes of short life among the idle and 
dissipated, said : " This much, I may safely say, 
that while I know not how it may be in other 
professions, my observations prove that artistes gen 
erally, and actors particularly, live too long for their 
comfort, or enjoyment of existence." 

Instead of idly believing in antiquated errors, as 
to the ages and fortunes of those of whom we have little 
knowledge, it is far more rational to conclude that age, 
in any situation, is seldom found productive of happi 
ness ; and the aged actor, like his fellow-sufferers in 
other labors, is often found to realize the beautiful 
lines in the Merchant of Venice, where Antonio sensi 
bly prefers an early death to protracted years of 
want: 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 519 

" Herein Fortune shows herself more kind 
Than is her custom ; for it is still her use 
To let the wretched man outlive his wealth, 
To view with hollow eye, and wrinkled brow, 
An age of poverty. From which lingering penance 
Of such misery doth she cut me off." 

We have embodied in the ahove remarks much of 
what we said to Mr. Forrest on the occasion to which 
we have alluded. Now let us see the result, without 
arrogating to ourselves any degree of credit for his 
change of views. 

In 1866, Mr. Forrest considered this place a Para 
dise ; what was his opinion of it at a subsequent 
period ? 

In the year 1870, he submitted to us a statement 
of Railroad Stock which was offered in part payment 
for the Springbrook property, and so anxious was he to 
get rid of it, that he said to us he was willing to make 
a sacrifice of twenty thousand dollars on it, which 
amount he had expended on the property over the 
original purchase money, in erecting hot houses, fur 
naces, etc., for the cultivation of grapes. Among the 
papers of Mr. Forrest will be found an opinion of 
the value of the Railroad Stock offered in payment, 
which not being satisfactory, the sale was not con 
summated. 

The codicil, dated October 18th, 1871, was made at 
the very time Springbrook was in the market for sale. 
His engagement at the Walnut Street Theatre closed 
on the 16th of October, 1871. The codicil was added 
two days afterwards to a will made five years before. 
Mr. Forrest left the city immediately after the signing 
of this document, at the same time giving instructions 



520 LIFE OF EDWIN FOKREST. 

to Mr. Thomas Shallcross, his agent for this property, 
and ourselves, to look out for a purchaser for Spring- 
brook. Why was a codicil placed to a will which 
Mr. Forrest had entirely repudiated, for its whole tenor 
was for the erection of a Home for Actors on land 
which was to be sold under his instructions, given two 
days after signing the codicil ? 

Shortly after Mr. Forrest s departure from the city, 
Mr. Shallcross found a purchaser for Springbrook, 
and he at once wrote to Mr. Forrest, saying, I have 
sold Springbrook for $95,000; $50,000 cash, and 
the balance in good city mortgages. To his sur 
prise Mr. Forrest did not receive this information in 
the spirit with which the whole matter was con 
ducted, nor did he answer the letter immediately, 
and when he did it was to have the sale postponed 
until he returned home. It was evident therefore to 
Mr. Shallcross, that Mr. Forrest must have had some 
reason for relinquishing a sale made under the most 
advantageous circumstances. The purchaser ultimate 
ly threw up the bargain. Mr. Forrest s course in this 
matter can be readily accounted for, which in the 
excitement and desire to get rid of Springbrook, he 
overlooked he could not give a clear title while the 
divorced ivife had a claim upon his property ! Every 
piece of ground sold by Mr. Forrest was subject to 
her claim, which an enlightened court awarded, as 
alimony ! 

The question arises here, we think: does the ali 
mony continue after the death of the husband ? We 
are not sufficiently learned in the law to give an opinion 
upon this point ; in the lady s case, a clause in Burr ill 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 521 

justifies in a measure the decision given by the court 
in New York, which says: "Alimony is an allowance 
to which a married woman is entitled upon a legal sep 
aration from her husband, when she is not charged 
with adultery or an elopement." 

If the parties go to law to decide this question of 
the wife s claim to alimony after the husband s death, 
we are fearful that the handed estate of Edwin Forrest, 
houses, library, pictures, bonds, mortgages, and all 
that was his, will be swallowed up in that vortex 
known as LAW. We should suggest a compromise 
with the lady, who, we are well informed, is willing to 
meet the Executors rather than go to law. This will 
settle the matter at once, and the will of the tragedian 
can then be acted upon immediately. 

It is evident, therefore, from what we have said, 
that until a short time before Mr. Forrest s death, he 
had no idea of locating the Home at Springbrook. 
His mansion at Broad and Master streets possessed 
all conveniences a vast library, a gallery of pictures, 
many of them peculiarly adapted to the object of the 
Home, portraits of leading actors, Cooke, Kean, Cooper, 
Wallack, Kemble, Caldwell, with those of Mrs. Sid- 
dons, Rachel, and other eminent actresses ; a photo 
graph gallery, illustrating Mr. Forrest in all the charac 
ters in which he appeared during the fifty years of 
his eventful career on the stage ; there is also a neat 
little theatre under the picture gallery, with appropri 
ate scenery, painted by that excellent scenic artist, 
Mr. John Wiser ; these with extensive grounds at 
tached, made it a Home ready at any moment for 
poor actors. 



522 LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 

Had the sale to which we have alluded been con 
summated in 1871, what would have been the fate of 
the will of former date ? It is true, another, which wo 
most sincerely believe was the one, the outline of which 
he read to us in 1869, would have taken its place, and 
the Home would have been in the city and not twelve 
miles from it. He put off the day, the hour, the min 
ute, until it was too late too late ! 

It is well known that Mr. Forrest s will, as it now 
stands, was a sad mistake, the comments made upon it 
after its publication were of such a character as to 
lessen his memory with many who, previously, had 
a high opinion of him not only as an actor but as a 
man. 

His fame as an actor was lost sight of, and a uni 
versal sentiment was expressed by no means compli 
mentary to him. Our readers are aware that we have 
endeavored throughout these " Reminiscences" to place 
Mr. Forrest before them in such a light as to disabuse 
the minds of his censurers, who, judging him from an 
imperfect will, condemn a whole course of life for this 
one fault, which summed up in a few words was, that 
he " put off until to-morrow what he should have done 
to-day." The neglecting of which duty has cast a 
shadow over his tomb that the sunshine of years can 
never dispel. 

Edwin Forrest is in his grave. A man more sinned 
against than sining. 

In article 7th of the will there is a clause which we 
feel assured old actors will never endorse, it is this : 
" The garden and grounds are to be made productive 
of profit as ivell as of health and pleasure, and so far 



LIFE OF EDWIN FORKEST. 523 

as capable, the inmates, not otherwise profitably occu 
pied, shall assist in farming, etc., etc 1 

According to another portion of the will, all that is 
expected of the inmates as regards indoor occupation is, 
either to lecture on oratory, or give readings, etc. This 
might be a source of revenue if the " Home" was in the 
city, but could scarcely be expected to yield much at 
Springbrook. Again, outdoor labor, working on a farm, 
could scarcely be expected from men who never did any 
thing in that line, but whose lives had been devoted to 
the cause of the drama. A man of seventy or eighty 
years of age needs quiet and retirement, and if he were 
able to work on a farm he certainly would be capable 
of performing on the stage, unless his habits were such 
as to debar him of the one and totally unfit him for the 
other. An actor is not considered in the light of a 
laborer, unless, as Shakespeare says, it is to " labor in 
his vocation." An old worn-out actor would seek such 
a Home as a cessation from labor, and if he can bring 
his intellectual abilities to be of service to the institu 
tion, it would be within the range of his artistic and 
dramatic education only, beyond that, it would be to 
insult the intelligence and age of the recipient of such 
bounty. 

Lectures on science and the arts, at Springbrook, are 
things of the future. Isolated as the place is, miles 
away from the city, these pleasing themes to men of 
literary taste sound well on paper, but viewed from a 
practical point of view cannot be carried out for years to 
come. The drama s cause can never be advantageously 
elevated, if the means to do so are placed so far away 
from those, who, otherwise, would be delighted to 



524 



LIFE OF EDWIN FOEEEST. 



participate in such a laudable undertaking. Were 
it in the city, as we feel assured that Mr. Forrest 
fully intended it to be, the "Edwin Forrest Home" 
would in a very short time be one of the Institutions 
of the Country. 



r 




THE END. 



IN VARIOUS SIZES AND STYLES, 

IMPERIAL, CABINET, AND CARD. 



Imperial 1 figure, sitting, 15 x 17* inches, 

mounted on card, 20 x 24 inches. Price 

Five Dollars per copy. 
Cabinet size, head and shoulders, 4x5 inches, 

in character of King Lear. Price Fifty 

Cents per copy. 



OF 

EDWIN FORREST S LIBRARY, 

Having in the foreground the case containing 
the copy of the First Folio Edition of Shake 
speare, which Mr. Forrest prized so highly. 

The above were the last Photographs taken 
of Mr. Forrest, and of his Library, and were 
pronounced by him to be the best ever taken. 

For sale by 

R GUTEKUNST, 

PHOTOGRAPHER, 

712 Arch Street, Philadelphia, 
To whom all orders must come addressed. 



T, B, PETERSON m BROTHERS PUBLICATIONS, 



NEW BOOKS ISSUED EVERY WEEK. 

Comprising tho most entertaining and absorbing Works published, 
suitable for all persons, by the best writers in the world. 

Ig^ Orders solicited from Booksellers, Librarians, Canvassers, News 

Agents, and all others in want of good and fast selling 

books, which will be supplied at very Low Prices. Hi 



MRS. EMMA D. E. N. SOTJTHWORTH S WORKS. 

Complete in thirty-seven large duodecimo volumes, bound in morocco cloth, gilt back, 
price $1.75 each; or $64.75 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

Victor s Triumph, $1 75 

A Beautiful Fiend, 1 75 



The Artist s Love, 

A Noble Lord, 

Lost Heir of Linlithgow 

Tried for her Life, 

Cruel as the Grave, 

The Maiden Widow, 



The Fatal Marriage, $ 


51 75 


The Deserted Wife, 


1 75 


The Bridal Eve, 


1 75 


The Lost Heiress, 


1 75 


The Two Sisters, 


1 75 


Lady of the Isle, 


1 75 


The Three Beauties, 


1 75 


Vivia ; or the Secret of Power, 


1 75 


The Missing Bride, 


1 75 




75 


The Gipsy s Prophecy, 


75 


Haunted Homestead, 


75 


Wife s Victory, 


75 


Allworth Abbey, 


75 


The Mother-in-Law, 


75 


Retribution, 


1 75 


India ; Pearl of Pearl River,.. 


1 75 


Curse of Clifton, 


1 75 


Discarded Daughter, 


1 75 



75 

75 

75 

75 

75 

75 

The Family Doom, 1 75 

Prince of Darkness, 1 75 

The Bride s Fate, 1 75 

The Changed Brides, 1 75 

How He Won Her, 1 75 

Fair Play, 1 75 

Fallen Pride, 1 75 

The Christmas Guest, 1 75 

The Widow s Son, 1 75 

The Bride of Llewellyn, 1 75 

The Fortune Seeker, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 

MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS WORKS. 

Complete in twenty-one large duodecimo volumes, bound in morocco cloth, gilt back, 
price $1.75 each ; or $36.75 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

$1 75 

75 

75 
75 
75 
75 
75 
75 
75 

Doubly False,.... 1 "75 | The Heiress,.... 1 75 | The Gold Brick,.... 75 
Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 

LIFE OF EDWIN FORREST. 

The Life of Edwin Forrest ; with Reminiscences and Personal Recol 
lections. By James Rees, (Colley Cibber.) With a Portrait, Auto 
graph, and Last Will of Edwin Forrest. Bound in morocco cloth. 2 00 



The Old Countess 


.. 1 75 






.. 1 75 


The Rejected Wife, 




.. 1 75 


The Wife s Secret, 


A Noble Woman, ... 


.. 1 75 


Mary Derwent 


Palaces and Prisons, 


.. 1 75 


Fashion and Famine, 




1 75 


The Cur^e of Gold 


Wives and Widows, 


.. 1 75 


Mabel s Mistake, 


Rubv Grav s Stratearv.... 


.. 1 75 


The Old Homestead.... 



$2jr Above Books will be sent, postage paid, on receipt of Retail Price, 
by T. B. Peterson & Brothers, Philadelphia, Pa. (1) 



T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS PUBLICATIONS. 3 
MISS ELIZA A. LUPUY S WORKS. 

Complete in eleven large duodecimo volumes, bound in morocco cloth, gilt back, price 
$1.75 each; or $19.25 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 



The Hidden Sin, $1 75 

The Dethroned Heiress, 1 75 

The Gipsy s Warning, 1 75 

All For Love, 1 75 

The Mysterious Guest 1 75 



Why Did He Marry Her? $1 75 

Who Shall be Victor, 1 75 

Was He Guilty? 1 75 

The Cancelled Will, 1 75 

The Planter s Daughter, 1 75 



Michael Rudolph; or, the Bravest of the Brave, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 

EMERSON BENNETT S WORKS. 

Complete, in seven larg? duodecimo volumes, Lmuid in cloth, gilt, back, price $1.75 
each ; or $12.25 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 



The Border Rover, $1 75 

Clara Moreland, 1 75 

The Forged Will, I 75 



Bride of the Wilderness, $1 75 

Ellen Norbury, I 75 

Kate Clarendon, 1 75 



Viola; or Adventures in the Far South-West, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 
The Heiress of Bellefonte, 75 | The Pioneer s Daughter, 75 

DOESTICKS WORKS. 

Complete in four large duodecimo volumes, bound in cloth, gilt back, price $1.75 
each ; or $7.00 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

Doesticks Letters, $1 75 I The Elephant Club, $1 75 

Plu-Ri-Bus-Tah, 1 75 | Witches of New York, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 

GREEN S WORKS ON GAMBLING. 

Complete in four large duodecimo volumes, bound in cloth, gilt back, price $1.75 
each; or $7.00 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 

Gambling Exposed, $1 75 j Reformed Gambler, $1 75 

The Gambler s Life, 1 75 | Secret Band of Brothers, 1 75 

Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.50 each. 

DOW S PATENT SERMONS. 

Complete in four large duodecimo volumes, bound in cloth, gilt back, price $1.50 
each ; or $6.00 a set, each set is put up in a neat box. 



Dow s Patent Sermon?, 1st 
Series, cloth, $1 50 

Dow s Patent Sermons, 2d 

Series, cloth 1 50. 



Dow s Patent Sermons, 3d 
Series, cloth, $1 50 

Dow s Patent Sermon?, 4th 
Series, cloth 1 50 



Above are each in cloth, or each one is in paper cover, at $1.00 each. 

WILKIE COLLINS BEST WORKS. 

Basil; or, The Crossed Path..$l 50 | The Dead Secret. 12mo $1 50 

Above are each in one large duodecimo volume, bound in cloth. 



The Dead Secret, 8vo 50 

Basil; or, the Crossed Path, 75 

Hide and Seek, 75 

After Dark,... .. 75 



Miss or Mrs? 50 

Mad Monkton, 50 

Sights a-Foot, 50 

The Stolen Mask,.., , 25 



The Queen s Revenge,... 75 | The Yellow Mask,... 25 | Sister Rose,... 25 
The above books are each issued in paper cover, in octavo form. 

FRANK FORRESTER S SPORTING BOOK. 

Frank Forrester s Sporting Scenes and Characters. By Henry Wil 
liam Herbert. With Illustrations by Darley. Two vols., cloth,...$4 00 

1* Above Books will he sent, postage paid, on receipt of Retail Price, 
by T. B. Peterson & Brothers, Philadelphia, Pa. 



Afl " 

Ao 



IN THE PLAY OF THE " GLADIATOR," 

A LIFE-LIKE PHOTOGRAPH IN CHARACTER. 



EDWIN FORKEST " as " SPARTACUS." 
T. B. Peterson & Brothers have just published a large 
photograph of EDWIN FORREST, representing him as he ap 
peared on the stage in his great character of " Spartacus," in 
Dr. Bird s celebrated play of the " Gladiator." The size of 
the photograph is 11X14 inches, and the size of the card it is 
mounted on for framing, is 16X20 inches. It is perfectly life 
like, Mr. Forrest having sat in character for the original pic 
ture ; and it is from the original picture this photograph has 
been taken, by one of the most celebrated artists in this coun 
try, F. Gutekunst, of Philadelphia. Price Two Dollars. It 
will be sent by express to any one on receipt of price. 

PORTRAIT OF " EDWIN FORREST." 
T. B. Peterson & Brothers also publish a fine portrait of 
EDWIN FORREST, engraved on steel, in line and stipple, from 
the last photograph for which Mr. Forrest sat, and which he 
pronounced to be the best portrait ever taken of himself. It 
is on a large card for framing. Size of the card, 10X13 
inches, price Fifty cents. India Proof Impressions of the 
same portrait are also published on the same size card, for 
framing, price Sixty cents. Copies of this portrait will be 
sent safely, on a roller, to any one, to any place, per mail, 
post-paid, on receipt of price by the Publishers. 

Address all orders and remittances for either or both of the 
above, to the Publishers, 

T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS, 

306 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA. 




HOME USE 

CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 

MAIN LIBRARY 

This book is due on the last date stamped below. 
1 -month loans may be renewed by calling 642-3405. 
6-month loans may be recharged by bringing books 

to Circulation Desk. 
Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days prior 

to due date. 

ALL BOOKS ARE SUBJECT TO RECALL 7 DAYS 
AFTER DATE CHECKED OUT. 



JUI 76 



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BEG.C1 



LD21 A-40m-5, 74 
(R8191L) 



AUG 2 4 2006 



General Library 

University of California 

Berkeley 



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U. C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES 




UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY